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Copyright 1910 
By Charles H. Kerr & Company 







Since the publication of the first edition of this book 
less than four months ago both the prophecies which it 
embodies have been fulfilled. On page 10 I say that 
Mexico *'is on the verge of a revolution in favor of 
democracy ;" and on page 267, that ''The United States 
will intervene with an army, if necessary, to maintain 
Diaz or a successor zvho would continue the special part- 
nership with American capital," 

As this is written, nearly 30,000 American soldiers are 
patrolHng the Mexican border and American warships 
are cruising in the neighborhood of Mexican ports. 
Though not a soldier may cross the line, though not a 
vessel may fire a shot, this is effective intervention all the 
same. The confessed purpose is to crush the revolution 
by cutting off its source of supplies and by preventing 
patriotic Mexicans residing in the United States from 
going home to fight for the freedom of their country. 

The action of President Taft in mobilizing the troops 
was taken without regard for the wishes of the American 
people and without due explanation to them. The action 
of the troops in seizing revolutionist supplies and arrest- 
ing revolutionist recruits is not only against every tradi- 
tion of political liberty upon which this nation is supposed 
to be based, but it is unlawful and criminal and punish- 
able under the laws of the States by fine and imprison- 
ment. It is not a crime against any federal or state law 
to ship food, or even arms and ammunition, into Mexico 
with the open intention of selling them to the revolution- 
ists. It is not a crime against any federal or state law 
to go from the United States into Mexico with the open 
intention of joining the revolution there. Without a 
formal proclamation of martial law the military author- 
ities have no right to exceed the civil laws and when 
they do so they are liable to fine and imprisonment for 
unlawful detention. 

Martial law has not been proclaimed on the border. 
Every day the military authorities there are violating 


the laws. But the civil authorities are cowed, the people 
are cowed, and the victims, Mexican or American, seem 
to have no redress. By fiat of the executive law and 
civil authority have been subverted and, as far as the 
Mexican situation is concerned, the United States has 
been turned into a military dictatorship as sinister and 
irresponsible as that of Diaz himself. 

And why has this thing been done? To maintain a 
chattel slavery more cruel than ever existed in our 
Southern states. To uphold a political tyranny a hundred 
times more unjust than the one against which our men 
of Seventy-Six revolted. If the policy of the Taft ad- 
ministration be permitted to continue these purposes will 
be attained. Already the revolution has received such a 
set-back that, though it win in the end, many good and 
brave men must die who otherwise might have lived. 
The purpose of this book was to inform the American 
people as to the facts about Mexico in order that they 
might be prepared to prevent American intervention 
against a revolution the justice of which there can be no 

So far "Barbarous Mexico" has failed in this purpose. 
Will it fail in the end? Are the American people as en- 
slaved in spirit as the Mexicans are in body ? In Mexico 
the only protest possible is a protest of arms. In the 
United States there is still a degree of freedom of press 
and speech. Though by tricks and deceits innumerable 
the rulers of America succeed in evading the will of the 
majority, the majority yet may protest, and if the protest 
be long enough and loud enough, it is still capable of 
making those rulers tremble. Protest against the Crime 
of Intervention. And should it become necessary, in 
order to make the rulers heed, to raise that protest to a 
threat of revolution here, so be it; the cause will be 
worth while. 


Los Angeles, Calif., April 8, 1911. 



I. The Slaves of Yucatan 9 

II. The Extermination of the Yaquis 37 

III. Over the Exile Road 49 

IV. The Contract Slaves of Valle Nacional. 67 

V. In the Valley of Death 82 

VI. The Country Peons and the City Poor. 109 

VII. The Diaz System 120 

VIII. Repressive Elements of the Diaz Ma- 
chine 138 

IX. The Crushing of Opposition Parties 160 

X. The Eighth Unanimous Election of 

Diaz 174 

XL Four Mexican Strikes 197 

XII. Critics and Corroboration 220 

XIII. The Diaz-American Press Conspiracy... 237 

XIV. The American Partners of Diaz 253 

XV. American Persecution of the Enemies 

OF Diaz 270 

XVI. Diaz Himself 299 

XVII. The Mexican People 324 


facing page 

Slave Mother and Child^ also Henequen Plant 20 

Women Are Cheaper than Grist-Mills 20 

Calling the Roll at Sunrise on a Slave Plantation 26 

Scene in a Yaqui Bull Pen on the Exile Road 49 

Band of Yaquis on the Exile Road 52 

Type of "Enganchado/' or Plantation Slave 70 

Boy Slaves on a Sugar Plantation in the Hot Lands 96 

Cargadores with Baskets, Seen Everyw^here on the 
Mexican Plateau 110 

Midnight in Mexico City "Meson," Cheap Lodging House 116 

Tv^o Groups of Waifs Sleeping in a "Meson" 118 

Ready for the Execution 140 

Mexican Cavalry and Mexican County Jail 144 

Yaquis Hanged in Sonora, Mexican Rurales 148 

A Typical Mexican Military Execution, Before and After 164 

Diaz ane Taft Photographed Together at El Paso, Texas 254 

Portraits of Five American Revolutionists 272 

Primitive Plow; Mexico Is Backward in Modern Ma- 
chinery, Not Because the Mexican Laborer Is Stupid, 
but Because He Is Cheap 328 

Wood Carriers, City of Mexico 334 




What is Mexico? 

Americans commonly characterize Mexico as "Our 
Sister Republic." Most of us picture her vaguely as 
a republic in reality much like our own, inhabited by 
people a little different in temperament, a little poorer 
and a little less advanced, but still enjoying the protec- 
tion of republican laws — a free people in the sense that 
we are free. 

Others of us, who have seen the country through a 
car window, or speculated a little in Mexican mines 
or Mexican plantations, paint that country beyond the 
Rio Grande as a benevolent paternalism in which a 
great and good man orders all things well for his fool- 
ish but adoring people. 

I found Mexico to be neither of these things. The 
real Mexico I found to be a country with a written 
constitution and written laws in general almost as fair 
and democratic as our own, but with neither constitution 
nor laws in operation. Mexico is a country without 
political freedom, without freedom of speech, without 
a free press, without a free ballot, without a jury sys- 
tem, without political parties, without any of our cher- 
ished guarantees of life, liberty and the pursuit of 
happiness. It is a land where there has been no contest 



for the office of president for more than a generation, 
where the executive rules all things by means of a 
standing army, where political offices are sold for a fixed 
price. I found Mexico to be a land where the people 
are poor because they have no rights, where peonage 
is the rule for the great mass, and where actual chattel 
slavery obtains for hundreds of thousands. Finally, I 
found that the people do not idolize their president, that 
the tide of opposition, dammed and held back as it has 
been by army and secret police, is rising to a height 
where it must shortly overflow that dam. Mexicans 
of all classes and affiliations agree that their country 
IS on the verge of a revolution in favor of democracy; 
if not a revolution in the time of Diaz, for Diaz is old 
and is expected soon to pass, then a revolution after 

My special interest in political Mexico was first awak- 
ened early in 1908, when I came in contact with four 
Mexican revolutionists who were at that time incar- 
cerated in the county jail at Los Angeles, California. 
Here were four educated, intelligent Mexicans, college 
men, all of them, who were being held by the United 
States authorities on a charge of planning to invade a 
friendly nation — Mexico— with an armed force from 
American soil. 

Why should intelligent men take up arms against a 
republic? Why should they come to the United States 
to prepare for their military maneuvers? I talked with 
those Mexican prisoners. They assured me that at 
one time they had peacefully agitated in their own coun- 
try for a peaceful and constitutional overthrow of the 
persons in control of their government. 

But for that very thing, they declared, they had been 
imprisoned and their property had been destroyed. Secret 


police had dogged their steps, their lives had been threat- 
ened, and countless methods had been used to prevent 
them from carrying on their work. Finally, hunted 
as outlaws beyond the national boundaries, denied the 
rights of free speech, press and assembly, denied the 
right peaceably to organize to bring about political 
changes, they had resorted to the only alternative — 
arms. Why had they wished to overturn their govern- 
ment? Because it had set aside the constitution, because 
it had abolished those civic rights which all enlightened 
men agree are necessary for the unfolding of a nation, 
because it had dispossessed the common people of their 
lands, because it had converted free laborers into serfs, 
peons, and some of them even into — slaves. 

"Slavery? Do you mean to tell me that there is any 
real slavery left in the western hemisphere?" I scoffed. 
"Bah ! You are talking like an American socialist. You 
mean 'wage slavery,' or slavery to miserable conditions 
of livelihood. You don't mean chattel slavery." 

But those four Mexican exiles refused to give ground. 
"Yes, slavery," they said, "chattel slavery. Men, women 
and children bought and sold like mules — just like mules 
— and like mules they belong to their masters. They are 

"Human beings bought and sold like mules in 
America! And in the twentieth century. Well," I told 
myself, "if it's true, I'm going to see it." 

So it was that early in September, 1908, I crossed 
the Rio Grande bound for my first trip through the 
back yards of Old Mexico. 

Upon this first trip I was accompanied by L. Gutier- 
rez De Lara, a Mexican of distinguished family, whose 
acquaintance I had made also in Los Angeles. De Lara 
was opposed to the existing government in Mexico, 


which fact my critics have pointed out as evidence of 
bias in my investigations. On the contrary, I did not 
depend on De Lara or any other biassed source for 
my information, but took every precaution to arrive 
at the exact truth, and by as many different avenues 
as practicable. Every essential fact which I put down 
here in regard to the slavery of Mexico I saw with my 
own eyes or heard with my own ears, and heard usually 
from those individuals who would be most likely to 
minimize their cruelties — the slave-drivers themselves. 

Nevertheless, to the credit of De Lara I must say 
that he gave me most important aid in gathering my 
material. By his knowledge of the country and the 
people, by his genius as a "mixer," and, above all, 
through his personal acquaintance with valuable sources 
of information all over the country — men on the inside 
— I was enabled to see and hear things which are prac- 
tically inaccessible to the ordinary investigator. 

Slavery in Mexico! Yes, I found it. I found it first 
in Yucatan. The peninsula of Yucatan is an elbow of 
Central America, which shoots off in a northeasterly 
direction almost half way to Florida. It belongs to 
Mexico, and its area of some 80,000 square miles is 
almost equally divided among the states of Yucatan and 
Campeche and the territory of Quintana Roo. 

The coast of Yucatan, which comprises the north- 
central part of the peninsula, is about a thousand miles 
directly south of New Orleans. The surface of the 
state is almost solid rock, so nearly solid that it is usually 
impossible to plant a tree without first blasting a hole 
to receive the shoot and make a place for the roots. 
Yet this naturally barren land is more densely populated 
than is our own United States. More than that, within 
one-fourth of the territory three- fourths of the people 


live, and the density of the population runs to nearly 
seventy-five per square mile. 

The secret of these peculiar conditions is that the 
soil and the climate of northern Yucatan happen to be 
perfectly adapted to the production of that hardy species 
of century plant which produces henequen, or sisal 
hemp. Hence we find the city of Merida, a beautiful 
modern city claiming a population of 60,000 people, 
and surrounding it, supporting it, vast henequen 
plantations on which the rows of gigantic green plants 
extend for miles and miles. The farms are so large 
that each has a little city of its own, inhabited by from 
500 to 2,500 people, according to the size of the farm. 
The owners of these great farms are the chief slave- 
holders of Yucatan; the inhabitants of the little cities 
are the slaves. The annual export of henequen from 
Yucatan approximates 250,000,000 pounds. The popu- 
lation of Yucatan is about three hundred thousand. The 
slave-holders' club numbers 250 members, but the vast 
majority of the lands and the slaves are concentrated 
in the hands of fifty henequen kings. The slaves num- 
ber more than one hundred thousand. 

In order to secure the truth in its greatest purity from 
the lips of the masters of the slaves I went among them 
playing a part. Long before I put my feet upon the 
white sands of Progreso, the port of Yucatan, I had 
heard how visiting investigators are bought or blinded, 
how, if they cannot be bought, they are wined and 
dined and filled with falsehood, then taken over a route 
previously prepared — fooled, in short, so completely that 
they go away half believing that the slaves are not 
slaves, that the hundred thousand half-starving, over- 
worked, degraded bondsmen are perfectly happy and so 
contented with their lot that it would be a shame indeed 


to yield to them the freedom and security which, in all 
humanity, is the rightful share of every human being 
born upon the earth. 

The part which I played in Yucatan was that of an 
investor with much money to sink in henequen prop- 
erties, and as such I was warmly welcomed by the 
henequen kings. I was rather fortunate in going to 
Yucatan when I did. Until the panic of 1907 it was 
a well-understood and unanimously approved policy of 
the "Camara de Agricola," the planters' organization, 
that foreigners should not be allowed to invade the 
henequen business. This was partly because the profits 
of the business were huge and the rich Yucatecos wanted 
to "hog it all" for themselves, but more especially be- 
cause they feared that through foreigners the story of 
their misdeeds might become known to the world. 

But the panic of 1907 wiped out the world's henequen 
market for a time. The planters were a company of 
little Rockefellers, but they needed ready cash, and they 
were willing to take it from anyone who came. Hence 
my imaginary money was the open sesame to their club, 
and to their farms. I not only discussed every phase 
of henequen production with the kings themselves, and 
while they were off their guard, but I observed thousands 
of slaves under their normal conditions. 

Chief among the henequen kings of Yucatan is 
Olegario Molina, former governor of the state and Sec- 
retary of Fomento (Public Promotion) of Mexico. 
Molina's holdings of lands in Yucatan and Quintana 
Roo aggregate 15,000,000 acres, or 23,000 square miles 
— a small kingdom in itself. The fifty kings live in 
costly palaces in Merida and many of them have homes 
abroad. They travel a great deal, usually they speak 
several different languages, and they and their families 


are a most cultivated class of people. All Merida and 
all Yucatan, even all the peninsula of Yucatan, are 
dependent on the fifty henequen kings. Naturally these 
men are in control of the political machinery of their 
state, and naturally they operate that machinery for their 
own benefit. The slaves are 8,000 Yaqui Indians im- 
ported from Sonora, 3,000 Chinese (Koreans), and be- 
tween 100,000 and 125,000 native Mayas, who formerly 
owned the lands that the henequen kings now own. 

The Maya people, indeed, form about ninety-five per 
cent of the population of Yucatan. Even the majority 
of the fifty henequen kings are Mayas crossed with the 
blood of Spain. The Mayas are Indians — and yet they 
are not Indians. They are not like the Indians of the 
United States, and they are called Indians only because 
their homes were in the western hemisphere when the 
Europeans came. The Mayas had a civilization of their 
own when the Europeans "discovered" them, and it 
was a civilization admittedly as high as that of the most 
advanced Aztecs or the Incas of Peru. 

The Mayas are a peculiar people. They look like 
no other people on the face of the earth. They are not 
like other Mexicans; they are not like Americans; they 
are not like Chinamen; they are not like East Indians; 
they are not like Turks. Yet one might very easily 
imagine that fusion of all these five widely different 
peoples might produce a people much like the Mayas. 
They are not large in stature, but their features are 
remarkably finely chiselled and their bodies give a strong 
impression of elegance and grace. Their skins are 
olive, their foreheads high, their faces slightly aquiline. 
The women of all classes in Merida wear long, flowing 
white gowns, unbound at the waist and embroidered 
about the hem and perhaps also about the bust in some 


bright color — green, blue or purple. In the warm even- 
ings a military band plays and hundreds of comely 
women and girls thus alluringly attired mingle among 
the fragrant flowers, the art statues and the tropical 
greenery of the city plaza. 

The planters do not call their chattels slaves. They call 
them "people," or "laborers," especially when speaking 
to strangers. But when speaking confidentially they 
have said to me : "Yes, they are slaves." 

But I did not accept the word slavery from the people 
of Yucatan, though they were the holders of the slaves 
themselves. The proof of a fact is to be found, not in 
the name, but in the conditions thereof. Slavery is 
the ownership of the body of a man, an ownership so 
absolute that the body can be transferred to another, 
an ownership that gives to the owner a right to take 
the products of that body, to starve it, to chastise it at 
will, to kill it with impunity. Such is slavery in the 
extreme sense. Such is slavery as I found it in Yucatan. 

The masters of Yucatan do not call their system 
slavery; they call it enforced service for debt. "We 
do not consider that we own our laborers; we consider 
that they are in debt to us. And we do not consider 
that we buy and sell them ; we consider that we transfer 
the debt, and the man goes with the debt." This is the 
way Don Enrique Camara Zavala, president of the 
"Camara de Agricola de Yucatan," explained the atti- 
tude of the henequen kings in the matter. "Slavery is 
against the law ; we do not call it slavery," various plant- 
ers assured me again and again. 

But the fact that it is not service for debt is proven 
by the habit of transferring the slaves from one master 
to another, not on any basis of debt, but on the basis of 
the market price of a man. In figuring on the purchase 


of a plantation I always had to figure on paying cash 
for the slaves, exactly the same as for the land, the 
machinery and the cattle. Four hundred Mexican dollars 
apiece was the prevailing price, and that is what the 
planters usually asked me. "If you buy now you buy 
at a very good time," I was told again and again. "The 
panic has put the price down. One year ago the 
price of each man was $1,000." 

The Yaquis are transferred on exactly the same basis 
as the Mayas — the market price of a slave — and yet all 
people of Yucatan know that the planters pay only $65 
apiece to the government for each Yaqui. I was offered 
for $400 each Yaquis who had not been in the country 
a month and consequently had had no opportunity of 
rolling up a debt that would account for the difference 
in price. Moreover, one of the planters told me: "We 
don't allow the Yaquis to get in debt to us." 

It would be absurd to suppose that the reason the 
price was uniform was because all the slaves were equally 
in debt. I probed this matter a little by inquiring into 
the details of the selling transaction. "You get the 
photograph and identification papers with the man," said 
one, "and that's all." "You get the identification papers 
and the account of the debt," said another. "We don't 
keep much account of the debt," said a third, "because 
it doesn't matter after you've got possession of the man." 
"The man and the identification papers are enough," 
said another; "if your man runs away, the papers are 
all the authorities require for you to get him back again." 
"Whatever the debt, it takes the market price to get 
him free again," a fifth told me. 

Conflicting as some of these answers are, they all 
tend to show one thing, that the debt counts for nothing 
after the debtor passes into the hands of the planter. 


Whatever the debt, it takes the market price to get the 
debtor free again! 

Even then, I thought, it would not be so bad if the 
servant had an opportunity of working out the price 
and buying back his freedom. Even some of our negro 
slaves before the Civil War were permitted — by excep- 
tionally lenient masters — to do that. 

But I found that such was not the custom. "You 
need have no fear in purchasing this plantation," said 
one planter to me, "of the laborers being able to buy 
their freedom and leave you. They can never do that." 

The only man in the country whom I heard of as 
having ever permitted a slave to buy his freedom was 
a professional man of Merida, an architect. "I bought 
a laborer for $1,000," he explained to me. "He was 
a good man and helped me a lot about my office. After 
I got to liking him I credited him with so much wages 
per week. After eight years I owed him the full $1,000, 
so I let him go. But they never do that on the planta- 
tions — ^never." 

Thus I learned that the debt feature of the enforced 
service does not alleviate the hardships of the slave by 
making it easier for him to free himself, neither does 
it aifect the conditions of his sale or his complete sub- 
jection to his master. On the other hand, I found that 
the one particular in which this debt element does 
play an actual part in the destiny of the unfortunate 
of Yucatan militates against him instead of operating in 
his favor. For it is by means of debt that the Yucatan 
slave-driver gets possession of the free laborers of his 
realm to replenish the overworked and underfed, the 
overbeaten, the dying slaves of his plantation. 

How are the slaves recruited? Don Joaquin Peon 
informed me that the Maya slaves die oflf faster than 


they are born, and Don Enrique Camara Zavala told 
me that two-thirds of the Yaquis die during the first year 
of their residence in the country. Hence the problem 
of recruiting the slaves seemed to me a very serious one. 
Of course, the Yaquis were coming in at the rate of 
500 per month, yet I hardly thought that influx would 
be sufficient to equal the tide of life that was going out 
by death. I was right in that surmise, so I was informed, 
but I was also informed that the problem of recruits 
was not so difficult, after all. 

"It is very easy," one planter told me. "All that is 
necessary is that you get some free laborer in debt to 
you, and then you have him. Yes, we are always get- 
ting new laborers in that way." 

The amount of the debt does not matter, so long as 
It IS a debt, and the little transaction is arranged by men 
who combine the functions of money lender and slave 
broker. Some of them have offices in Merida and they 
get the free laborers, clerks and the poorer class of 
people generally into debt just as professional loan sharks 
of America get clerks, mechanics and office men into 
debt — by playing on their needs and tempting them. 
Were these American clerks, mechanics and office men 
residents of Yucatan, instead of being merely hounded 
by a loan shark, they would be sold into slavery for all 
time, they and their children and their children's chil- 
dren, on to the third and fourth generation, and even 
farther, on to such a time as some political change puts 
a stop to the conditions of slavery altogether in Mexico. 

These money-lending slave brokers of Merida do not 
hang out signs and announce to the world that they have 
slaves to sell. They do their business quietly, as people 
who are comparatively safe in their occupation, but as 
people who do not wish to endanger their business by 


too great publicity — like police-protected gambling 
houses in an American city, for example. These slave 
sharks were mentioned to me by the henequen kings 
themselves, cautiously by them, as a rule. Other old 
residents of Yucatan explained their methods in detail. 
I was curious to visit one of these brokers and talk with 
him about purchasing a lot of slaves, but I was advised 
against it and was told that they would not talk to a 
foreigner until the latter had established himself in the 
community and otherwise proved his good faith. 

These men buy and sell slaves. And the planters buy 
and sell slaves. I was offered slaves in lots of one up 
by the planters. I was told that I could buy a man or 
a woman, a boy or a girl, or a thousand of any of them, 
to do with them exactly as I wished, that the police 
would protect me in my possession of those, my fellow 
beings. Slaves are not only used on the henequen plan- 
tations, but in the city, as personal servants, as laborers, 
as household drudges, as prostitutes. How many of 
these persons there are in the city of Merida I do not 
know, though I heard many stories of the absolute power 
exercised over them. Certainly the number is several 

So we see that the debt element in Yucatan not only 
does not palliate the condition of the slave, but rather 
makes it harder. It increases his extremity, for while 
it does not help him to climb out of his pit, it reaches 
out its tentacles and drags down his brother, too. The 
portion of the people of Yucatan who are born free 
possess no "inalienable right" to their freedom. They 
are free only by virtue of their being prosperous. Let 
a family, however virtuous, however worthy, however 
cultivated, fall into misfortune, let the parents fall into 
debt and be unable to pay the debt, and the whole family 




is liable to pass into the hands of a henequen planter. 
Through debt, the dying slaves of the farms are replaced 
by the unsuccessful wage-workers of the cities. 

Why do the henequen kings call their system enforced 
service for debt instead of by its right name? Prob- 
ably for two reasons — because the system is the out- 
growth of a milder system of actual service for debt, 
and because of the prejudice against the word slavery, 
both among Mexicans and foreigners. Service for debt 
in a milder form than is found in Yucatan exists all over 
Mexico and is called peonage. Under this system, police 
authorities everywhere recognize the right of an em- 
ployer to take the body of a laborer who is in debt to 
him, and to compel the laborer to work out the debt. 
Of course, once the employer can compel the laborer 
to work, he can compel him to work at his own terms, 
and that means that he can work him on such terms as 
will never permit the laborer to extricate himself from 
his debt. 

Such is peonage as it exists throughout all Mexico. 
In the last analysis it is slavery, but the employers con- 
trol the police, and the fictional distinction is kept up 
all the same. Slavery is peonage carried to its greatest 
possible extreme, and the reason we find the extreme 
in Yucatan is that, while in some other sections of Mex- 
ico a fraction of the ruling interests are opposed to 
peonage and consequently exert a modifying influence 
upon it, in Yucatan all the ruling interests are in hene- 
quen. The cheaper the worker the higher the profits 
for all. The peon becomes a chattel slave. 

The henequen kings of Yucatan seek to excuse their 
system of slavery by denominating it enforced service 
for debt. "Slavery is against the law," they say. "It 
is against the constitution." When a thing is abolished 


by your constitution it works more smoothly if called 
by another name, but the fact is, service for debt is 
just as unconstitutional in Mexico as chattel slavery. 
The plea of the henequen king of keeping within the 
law is entirely without foundation. A comparison of 
the following two clauses from the Mexican constitu- 
tion will show that the two systems are in the same 

"Article I, Section 1. In the Republic all are born 
free. Slaves who set foot upon the national territory 
recover, by that act alone, their liberty, and have a right 
to the protection of the laws." 

"Article V, Section 1 (Amendment). No one shall 
be compelled to do personal work without just compen- 
sation and without his full consent. The state shall 
not permit any contract, covenant or agreement to be 
carried out having for its object the abridgment, loss 
or irrevocable sacrifice of the liberty of a man, whether 
by reason of labor, education or religious vows. * ♦ ♦ 
Nor shall any compact be tolerated in which a man 
agrees to his proscription or exile." 

So the slave business in Yucatan, whatever name may 
be applied to it, is still unconstitutional. On the other 
hand, if the policy of the present government is to be 
taken as the law of the land, the slave business of 
Mexico is legal. In that sense the henequen kings "obey 
the law." Whether they are righteous in doing so I 
will leave to hair-splitters in morality. Whatever the 
decision may be, right or wrong, it does not change, for 
better or for worse, the pitiful misery in which I found 
the hemp laborers of Yucatan. 

The slaves of Yucatan get no money. They are half 
starved. They are worked almost to death. They are 
beaten. A large percentage of them are locked up every 


night in a house resembHng a jail. If they are sick 
they must still work, and if they are so sick that it is 
impossible for them to work, they are seldom permitted 
the services of a physician. The women are compelled 
to marry, compelled to marry men of their own planta- 
tion only, and sometimes are compelled to marry certain 
men not of their choice. There are no schools for the 
children. Indeed, the entire lives of these people are 
ordered at the whim of a master, and if the master 
wishes to kill them, he may do so with impunity. I 
heard numerous stories of slaves being beaten to death, 
but I never heard of an instance in which the murderer 
was punished, or even arrested. The police, the public 
prosecutors and the judges know exactly what is ex- 
pected of them, for the men who appoint them are the 
planters themselves. The jefes politicos, the rulers of 
the political districts corresponding to our counties, who 
are as truly czars of the districts as Diaz is the Czar of 
all Mexico, are invariably either henequen planters or 
employes of henequen planters. 

The first mention of corporal punishment for the 
slaves was made to me by one of the members of the 
Camara, a large, portly fellow with the bearing of an 
opera singer and a white diamond shining at me like 
a sun from his slab-like shirt front. He told a story, 
and as he told it he laughed. I laughed, too, but in a 
little different way. I could not help feeling that the story 
was made to order to fit strangers. 

"Oh, yes, we have to punish them," said the fat king 
of henequen. "We even are compelled to whip the 
house servants of the city. It is their nature; they de- 
mand it. A friend of mine, a very mild man, had a 
woman servant who was always wishing to serve some- 
body else. My friend finally sold the woman, and some 


months later he met her on the street and asked her 
how she liked her new master. 'Finely/ she answered, 
'finely. You see, my master is a very rough man and 
he beats me nearly every day !' " 

The philosophy of beating was made very clear to me 
by Don Felipe G. Canton, secretary of the Camara. 

*'It is necessary to whip them — oh, yes, very neces- 
sary," he told me, with a smile, "for there is no other 
way to make them do what you wish. What other 
means is there of enforcing the discipline of the farm? 
If we did not whip them they would do nothing." 

I could make no reply. I could think of no ground 
upon which to assail Don Felipe^s logic. For what, 
pray, can be done to a chattel slave to make him work 
but to beat him? With the wage worker you have the 
fear of discharge or the reduction of wages to hold over 
his head and make him toe the mark, but the chattel 
slave would welcome discharge, and as to reducing his 
food supply, you don't dare to do that or you kill him 
outright. At least, that is the case in Yucatan. 

One of the first sights we saw on a henequen planta- 
tion was the beating of a slave — a formal beating before 
the assembled toilers of the ranch early in the morning 
just after the daily roll call. The slave was taken on 
the back of a huge Chinaman and given fifteen lashes 
across the bare back with a heavy, wet rope, lashes so 
lustily delivered that the blood ran down the victim's 
body. This method of beating is an ancient one in 
Yucatan and is the customary one on all the plantations 
for boys and all except the heaviest men. Women are 
required to kneel to be beaten, as sometimes are men 
of great weight. Men and women are beaten in the fields 
as well as at the morning roll call. Each foreman, or 
capataz, carries a heavy cane with which he punches 


and prods and whacks the slaves at will. I do not 
remember visiting a single field in which I did not see 
some of this punching and prodding and whacking 
going on. 

I saw no punishments worse than beating in Yucatan, 
but I heard of them. I was told of men being strung 
up by their fingers or toes to be beaten, of their being 
thrust into black dungeon-like holes, of water being 
dropped on the hand until the victim screamed, of the 
extremity of female punishment being found in some 
outrage to the sense of the modesty in the woman. I 
saw black holes and everywhere I saw the jail dormi- 
tories, armed guards and night guards who patrolled 
the outskirts of the farm settlements while the slaves 
slept. I heard also of planters who took special delight 
in personally superintending the beating of their chat- 
tels. For example, speaking of one of the richest plant- 
ers in Yucatan, a professional man of Merida said to 

"A favorite pastime of was to sit on his, 

horse and watch the 'cleaning up* (the punishment) of., 
his slaves. He would strike a match to light his cigar. 
At the first puff of smoke the first stroke of the wet 
rope would fall on the bare back of the victim. He 
would smoke on, leisurely, contentedly, as the blows fell, 
one after another. When the entertainment finally palled 
on him he would throw away his cigar and the man 
with the rope would stop, for the end of the cigar was 
the signal for the end of the beating." 

The great plantations of Yucatan are reached by pri- 
vate mule car lines built and operated specially for the 
business of the henequen kings. The first plantation 
that we visited was typical. Situated fifteen miles west 
of Merida, it contains thirty-six square miles of land, 


one-fourth of it in henequen, part of the rest in pasture 
and a part unreclaimed. In the center of the plantation 
is the farm settlement, consisting of a grass-grown patio, 
or yard, surrounding which are the main farm buildings, 
the store, the factory, the house of the administrador, or 
general manager; the house of the mayordomo primero, 
or superintendent; the houses of the mayordomos sec- 
undos, or overseers, and the little chapel. Behind these 
are the corrals, the drying yard, the stable, the jail 
dormitory. Finally, surrounding all are the rows of 
one-room huts set in little patches of ground, in which 
reside the married slaves and their families. 

Here we found fifteen hundred slaves and about thirty 
bosses of various degrees. Thirty of the slaves were 
Koreans, about two hundred were Yaquis and the rest 
were Mayas. The Maya slaves, to my eyes, differed 
from the free Mayas I had seen in the city principally 
in their clothing and their general unkempt and over- 
worked appearance. Certainly they were of the same 
clay. Their clothing was poor and ragged, yet generally 
clean. The women wore calico, the men the thin, un- 
bleached cotton shirt and trousers of the tropics, the 
trousers being often rolled to the knees. Their hats 
were of coarse straw or grass, their feet always bare. 

Seven hundred of the slaves are able-bodied men, the 
rest women and children. Three hundred and eighty 
of the men are married and live with their families in 
the one-room huts. These huts are set in little patches 
of ground 144 feet square, which, rocky and barren as 
they are, are cultivated to some small purpose by the 
women and children. In addition to the product of 
their barren garden patch each family receives daily 
credit at the plantation store for twenty-five centavos, 
or twelve and one-half cents' worth of merchandise. 


No money is paid; it is all in credit, and this same sys- 
tem prevails on about one-half the plantations. The other 
half merely deal out rations. It amounts to the same 
thing, but some of the planters stick to the money 
credit system merely in order to keep up the pretense 
of paying wages. I priced some of the goods at the 
store — corn, beans, salt, peppers, clothing and blankets 
was about all there was — and found that the prices were 
high. I could not understand how a family could live 
on twelve and one-half cents* worth of it each day, a 
hard-working family, especially. 

The slaves rise from their beds when the big bell 
in the patio rings at 3:45 o'clock in the morning, and 
their work begins as soon thereafter as they can get 
to it. Their work in the fields ends when it is too dark 
to see, and about the yards it sometimes extends until 
long into the night. 

The principal labor of the plantation is harvesting 
the henequen leaves and cleaning the weeds from be- 
tween the plants. Each slave is given a certain number 
of leaves to cut or plants to clean, and it is the policy 
of the planter to make the stint so hard that the slave 
is compelled to call out his wife and children to help 
him. Thus nearly all the women and children of the 
plantation spend a part of the day in the field. The 
unmarried women spend all the day in the field, and 
when a boy reaches the age of twelve he is considered 
to be a man and is given a stint of his own to do. Sun- 
days the slaves do not work for the master. They spend 
their time in their patches, rest or visit. Sunday is 
the day on which the youths and maidens meet and plan 
to marry. Sometimes they are even permitted to go off 
the farm and meet the slaves of their neighbor, but never 
are they permitted to marry the people of other planta- 


tions, for this would necessitate the purchase of either 
the wife or the husband by one or the other of the two 
owners, and that would involve too much trouble. 

Such are the conditions in general that prevail on 
all the plantations of Yucatan. 

We spent two days and two nights on the plantation 
called San Antonio Yaxche and became thoroughly 
acquainted with its system and its people. 

Not only do not the owners of the great henequen 
farms of Yucatan live on their farms, but neither do 
the managers. Like the owners, the managers have 
their homes and their offices in Merida, and visit the 
plantations only from two to half a dozen times a month. 
The mayordomo primero is ordinarily the supreme ruler 
of the plantation, but when the manager, or admin- 
istrador, heaves in sight, the mayordomo primero be- 
comes a very insignificant personage indeed. 

At least that was the case on San Antonio Yaxche. 
The big mayordomo was compelled to bow and scrape 
before the boss just as were the lesser foremen, and 
at meal time Manuel Rios, the administrador, I and my 
companion — the latter, much to the disgust of Rios, who 
looked upon him as an underling — dined alone in state 
while the mayordomo hovered in the background, ready 
to fly away instantly to do our bidding. At the first 
meal — and it was the best I had in all Mexico — I felt 
strongly impelled to invite Mister Mayordomo to sit 
down and have something. I did not do it, and after- 
wards I was glad that I did not, for before I left the 
ranch I realized what an awful breach of etiquette I 
would have been guilty of. 

In the fields we found gangs of men and boys, some 
gangs hoeing the weeds from between the gigantic 
plants and some sawing off the big leaves with machetes. 


The harvest of the leaves goes on unceasing all the 
twelve months of the year, and during the cycle every 
plant on the farm is gone over four times. Twelve 
leaves are usually clipped, the twelve largest, the thirty 
smallest being left to mature for another three months. 
The workman chops off the leaf at its root, trims the 
sharp briars off the two edges, trims the spear-like tip, 
counts the leaves 1-eft on the plant, counts the leaves 
he is cutting, piles his leaves into bundles, and finally 
carries the bundles to the end of his row, where they 
are carted away on a movable-track mule-car line. 

I found the ground uneven and rocky, a punishment 
for the feet, the henequen leaves thorny and treach- 
erous and the air thick, hot and choking, though the 
season was considered a cool one. The ragged, bare- 
footed harvesters worked steadily, carefully and with 
the speed of better paid laborers who work "by the 
piece." They were working *'by the piece," too, the 
reward being immunity from the lash. Here and there 
among them I saw tired-looking women and children, 
sometimes little girls as young as eight or ten. Two 
thousand leaves a day is the usual stint on San Antonio 
Yaxche. On other plantations I was told that it is 
sometimes as high as three thousand. 

The henequen leaves, once cut, are carted to a large 
building in the midst of the farm settlement, where 
they are hoisted in an elevator and sent tumbling down 
a long chute and into the stripping machine. Here 
hungry steel teeth tear the tough, thick leaves to pieces, 
and the result is two products — a green powder, which 
is refuse, and long strands of greenish, hair-like fibre, 
which is henequen. The fibre is sent on a tramway to 
the drying yard, where it turns the color of the sun. 
Then it is trammed back, pressed into bales, and a few 


days or weeks later the observer will see it at Progreso, 
the port of Yucatan, twenty-five miles north of Merida, 
being loaded into a steamship flying the British flag. 
The United States buys nearly all the henequen of 
Yucatan, our cordage trust, an alleged concern of Stand- 
ard Oil, absorbing more than half of the entire product. 

Eight centavos per pound was the 1908 price received 
for sisal hemp in the bale. One slave dealer told me 
that the production cost no more than one. 

About the machinery we found many small boys 
working. In the drying yard we found boys and men. 
All of the latter impressed me with their listless move- 
ments and their haggard, feverish faces. This was ex- 
plained by the foreman in charge. "When the men are 
sick we let them work here," he said — "on half pay!" 

Such was the men's hospital. The hospital for the 
women we discovered in a basement of one of the main 
buildings. It was simply a row of windowless, earthen- 
floor rooms, half-dungeons, in each of which lay one 
woman on a bare board, without a blanket to soften it. 

More than three hundred of the able-bodied slaves 
spend the nights in a large structure of stone and mortar, 
surrounded by a solid wall twelve feet high, which is 
topped with the sharp edges of thousands of broken 
glass bottles. To this inclosure there is but one door, 
and at it stands a guard armed with a club, a sword 
and a pistol. These are the quarters of the unmarried 
men of the plantation, Mayas, Yaquis and Chinese; 
also of the "half-timers," slaves whom the plantation 
uses only about half of the year, married men, some 
of them, whose families live in little settlements border- 
ing on the farm. 

These "half-timers" are found on only about one- 
third of the plantations, and they are a class which has 


been created entirely for the convenience of the masters. 
They become "full-timers" at the option of the masters, 
and are then permitted to keep their families on the 
plantations. They are compelled to work longer than 
half the year if they are wanted, and during the time 
when they are not working they are not permitted to 
go away on a hunt for other work. Generally their 
year's labor is divided into two sections, three months 
in the spring and three in the fall, and during that period 
they cannot go to visit their families. They are always 
kept in jail at night, they are fed by the farm, and their 
credit of twelve and one-half cents per day is kept back 
and doled out to their families a little at a time to pre- 
vent starvation. 

A moment's figuring will show that the yearly credit 
for a half-timer who works six months is $22.50, and 
this is all — absolutely all — that the family of the half- 
time slave has to live on each year. 

Inside the large, one-room building within the stone 
wall at San Antonio Yaxche we found, swinging so 
close that they touched one another, more than three 
hundred rope hammocks. This was the sleeping place 
of the half-timers and the unmarried full-timers. We 
entered the enclosure just at dusk, as the toilers, wiping 
the sweat from their foreheads, came filing in. Behind 
the dormitory we found half a dozen women working 
over some crude, open-air stoves. Like half-starved 
wolves the ragged workers ringed about the simple 
kitchen, grimy hands went out to receive their meed of 
supper, and standing there the miserable creatures ate. 

I sampled the supper of the slaves. That is, I sam- 
pled a part of it with my tongue, and the rest, which 
my nostrils warned me not to sample with my tongue, 
I sampled with my nostrils. The meal consisted of two 


large corn tortillas, the bread of the poor of Mexico, 
a cup of boiled beans, unflavored, and a bowl of fish — 
putrid, stinking fish, fish that reeked with an odor that 
stuck in my system for days. How could they ever eat 
it? Ah, well, to vary a weary, unending row of meals 
consisting of only beans and tortillas a time must come 
when the most refined palate will water to the touch of 
something different, though that something is fish which 
offends the heavens with its rottenness. 

"Beans, tortillas, fish!" I suppose that they can at 
least keep alive on it," I told myself, "provided they do 
no worse at the other two meals." "By the way," I 
turned to the adminstrador, who was showing us about, 
"what do they get at the other two meals?" 

"The other two meals?" The administrador was 
puzzled. "The other two meals ? Why, there aren't any 
others. This is the only meal they have!" 

Beans, tortillas, fish, once a day, and a dozen hours 
under the hottest sun that ever shone! 

"But, no," the administrador corrected himself. "They 
do get something else, something very fine, too, some- 
thing that they can carry to the field with them and eat 
when they wish. Here is one now." 

At this he picked up from one of the tables of the 
women a something about the size of his two small fists, 
and handed it to me, triumphantly. I took the round, 
soggy mass in my fingers, pinched, smelled and tasted 
it. It proved to be corn dough, half fermented and 
patted into a ball. This, then, was the other two meals, 
the rest^ of the substance besides beans, tortillas and 
decayed fish which sustained the toilers throughout the 
long day. I turned to a young Maya who was carefully 
picking a fish bone. 


"Which would you rather be," I asked of him, "a 
half-timer or a full-timer?" 

"A full-timer," he replied, promptly, and then in a 
lower tone: "They work us until we are ready to fall, 
then they throw us away to get strong again. If they 
worked the full-timers like they work us they would 

"We come to work gladly," said another young Maya, 
"because we're starved to it. But before the end of the 
first week we want to run away. That is why they 
lock us up at night." 

"Why don't you run away when you're free to do it ?" 
I asked. "When they turn you out, I mean?" 

The administrador had stepped away to scold a wom- 
an. "It's no use," answered the man earnestly. "They 
always get us. Everybody is against us and there is 
no place to hide." 

"They keep our faces on photographs," said another. 
"They always get us and give us a cleaning-up (beat- 
ing) besides. When we're here we want to run away, 
but when they turn us out we know that it's no use." 

I was afterwards to learn how admirably the Yucatan 
country is adapted to preventing the escape of run- 
aways. No fruits or eatable herbs grow wild in that 
rocky land. There are no springs and no place where 
a person can dig a well without a rock drill and dyna- 
mite. So every runaway in time finds his way to a 
plantation or to the city, and at either place he is caught 
and held for identification. A free laborer who does 
not carry papers to prove that he is free is always liable 
to be locked up and put to much trouble to prove that 
he is not a runaway slave. 

Yucatan has been compared to Russians Siberia. "Si- 
beria," Mexican political refugees have told me, "is hell 


frozen over; Yucatan is hell aflame." But I did not see 
many points in common between the two countries. 
True, the Yaquis are exiles in a sense, and political 
exiles at that, but they are also slaves. The political 
exiles of Russia are not slaves. According to Kennan, 
they are permitted to take their families with them, to 
choose their own abode, to live their own life, and are 
often given a small monthly stipend on which to live. I 
could not imagine Siberia as being as bad as Yucatan. 

The Yucatan slave gets no hour for lunch, as does 
the American ranch hand. He goes to the field in the 
morning twilight, eating his lump of sour dough on the 
way. He picks up his machete and attacks the first 
thorny leaf as soon as it is light enough to see the thorns 
and he never lays down that machete until the twilight 
of the evening. Two thousand of the big green leaves 
a day is his "stint," and besides cutting, trimming and 
piling them, he must count them, and he must count the 
number of leaves on each plant and be sure that he does 
not count too many nor too few. Each plant is sup- 
posed to grow just 36 new leaves a year. Twelve of 
these, the 12 largest, are cut every four months, but 
whatever the number cut just 30 leaves must be left 
after the clipping. If the slave leaves 31 or 29 he is 
beaten, if he fails to cut his 2,000 he is beaten, if he 
trims his leaves raggedly he is beaten, if he is late at 
roll-call he is beaten. And he is beaten for any other 
little shortcoming that any of the bosses may imagine 
that he detects in his character or in his make-up. Si- 
beria? To my mind Siberia is a foundling asylum com- 
pared to Yucatan. 

Over and over again I have compared in my mind 
the condition of the slaves of Yucatan with what I 
have read of the slaves of our southern states before 


the Civil War. And always the result has been in favor 
of the black man. Our slaves of the South were almost 
always well fed, as a rule they were not overworked, on 
many plantations they were rarely beaten, it was usual to 
give them a little spending money now and then and to 
allow them to leave the plantation at least once a week. 
Like the slaves of Yucatan they were cattle of the ranch, 
but, unlike the former, they were treated as well as cat- 
tle. In the South before the War there were not so 
many plantations where the negroes died faster than 
they were born. The lives of our black slaves were not 
so hard but that they could laugh, sometimes — and sing. 
But the slaves of Yucatan do not sing ! 

I shall never forget my last day in Merida. Merida 
is probably the cleanest and most beautiful little city in all 
Mexico. It might even challenge comparison in its white 
prettiness with any other in the world. The municipality 
has expended vast sums on paving, on parks and on 
public buildings, and over and above this the henequen 
kings not long since made up a rich purse for improve- 
ments extraordinary. My last afternoon and evening 
in Yucatan I spent riding and walking about the wealthy 
residence section of Merida. Americans might expect 
to find nothing of art and architecture down on this 
rocky Central American peninsula, but Merida has its 
million dollar palaces like New York, and it has miles of 
them set in miraculous gardens. 

Wonderful Mexican palaces! Wonderful Mexican 
gardens! A wonderful fairyland conjured out of 
slavery — slavery of Mayas, and of Yaquis. Among the 
Yucatan slaves there are ten Mayas to one Yaqui, but 
of the two the story of the Yaquis appealed to me the 
more. The Mayas are dying in their own land and 
with their own people. The Yaquis are exiles. They 


are dying in a strange land, they are dying faster, and 
they are dying alone, away from their families, for 
every Yaqui family sent to Yucatan is broken up on the 
way. Husbands and wives are torn apart and babes are 
taken from their mothers' breasts. 



My real purpose in journeying to Yucatan was to find 
out what became of the Yaqui Indians of Sonora. In 
common with thousands of other Americans who have 
lived for years in our Southwest and near the border 
line of Mexico, I knew something of the sufferings of the 
Yaquis in their native state, of the means which had 
been taken to stir them to revolt, of the confiscation of 
their lands, of the methods of extermination employed by 
the army, of the indignation voiced by the decent ele- 
ment of Sonora, finally of President Diaz's sweeping 
order of deportation. 

I knew that the order of deportation was being car- 
ried out, that hundreds of families were being gathered 
up monthly and sent away into exile. But what fate 
was awaiting them there at the end of that exile road? 
The answer was always vague, indefinite, unsatisfactory. 
Even well-informed Mexicans of their country's metrop- 
olis could not tell me. After the Yaqui exiles sailed 
from the port of Veracruz the curtain dropped upon 
them. I went to Yucatan in order to witness, if possi- 
ble, the final act in the life drama of the Yaqui nation. 
And I witnessed it. 

The Yaquis are being exterminated and exterminated 
fast. There is no room for controversy as to that; the 
only controversy relates to whether or not the Yaquis 
deserve to be exterminated. It is undoubtedly true that 
a portion of their number have persistently refused to 
accept the destiny that the government has marked out 
for them. On the other hand, there are those who 



assert that the Yaquis are as worthy as other Mexicans 
and deserve as much consideration at the hands of their 

The extermination of the Yaquis began in war; its 
finish is being accomplished in deportation and slavery. 

The Yaquis are called Indians. Like the Mayas of 
Yucatan, they are Indians and yet they are not Indians. 
In the United States we would not call them Indians, 
for they are workers. As far back as their history can 
be traced they have never been savages. They have 
been an agricultural people. They tilled the soil, dis- 
covered and developed mines, constructed systems of 
irrigation, built adobe towns, maintained public schools, 
had an organized government and their own mint. When 
the Spanish missionaries came among them they were 
in possession of practically the whole of that vast ter- 
ritory south of Arizona which today comprises the state 
of Sonora. 

"They are the best workers in Sonora," Colonel Fran- 
cisco B. Cruz, the very man who has charge of their 
deportation to Yucatan, and of whom I will have more 
to say later, told me. *'One Yaqui laborer is worth 
two ordinary Americans and three ordinary Mexicans," 
E. F. Trout, a Sonora mine foreman told me. "They 
are the strongest, soberest and most reliable people in 
Mexico," another one told me. "The government is 
taking our best workmen away from us and destroying 
the prosperity of the state," said another. "The govern- 
ment says it wants to open up the Yaqui country for 
settlers," S. R. DeLong, secretary of the Arizona His- 
torical Society and an old resident of Sonora, told me, 
"but it is my opinion that the Yaquis themselves are the 
best settlers that can possible be found." 

Such expressions are heard very frequently in Sonora, 


in the border states and in border publications. The 
Yaqui certainly has an admirable physical development. 
During my journeys in Mexico I learned to pick him out 
at a glance, by his broad shoulders, his deep chest, his 
sinewy legs, his rugged face. The typical Yaqui is al- 
most a giant, the race a race of athletes. Perhaps that 
is just the reason why he has not bent his head in sub- 
mission to the will of the masters of Mexico. 

American mine-owners and railroad men of Sonora 
are repeatedly complaining against the deportation of 
the Yaquis, and it is because they are such good work- 
men. Another matter which I have heard much re- 
marked about by border Americans is the regard of the 
so-called renegade, or fighting Yaquis, for the property 
of Americans and other foreigners. When the Yaquis 
first took up arms against the present government some 
twenty-five years ago they did so because of a definite 
grievance. Usually they fought on the defensive. 
Driven to the mountains, they have been compelled at 
times to sally forth and plunder for their stomachs* 
sake. But for many years it was known to all men that 
they seldom attacked Americans or any people but 
Mexicans. And for a long time they never committed 
any depredations on railroads or railroad property, 
which in Sonora has always been American. 

The origin of the Yaqui troubles is generally attrib- 
uted to a plot on the part of a number of politicians, the 
purpose being to get possession of the rich lands in 
Southern Sonora which the Yaquis had held for hun- 
dreds of years. For twenty-four years past the only 
governors Sonora has had have been Ramon Corral, 
now Diaz*s vice-president, Rafael Yzabal and Luis 
Torres. These three have rotated in office, as it were, 
for more than a generation. As no popular elections 


were held at all, these three friends had absolutely no 
one to answer to except President Diaz, and their au- 
thority in Sonora has been practically absolute. 

The Yaquis seem to have had a pretty good title to 
their lands when Corral, Yzabal and Torres came upon 
the scene. At the time of the Spanish conquest they 
were a nation of from one to two hundred thousand peo- 
ple, supposed by some authorities to have been offshoots 
from the Aztecs. The Spanish were never able to sub- 
due them completely, and after two hundred and fifty 
troublous years a peace was entered into whereby the 
Yaquis gave up a part of their territory and, as ac- 
knowledgment of their rightful ownership of the rest 
of it, the King of Spain gave them a patent signed by 
his own hand. This was nearly one hundred and fifty 
years ago, but the royal patent was honored by every 
ruler and chief executive of Mexico down to Diaz. Dur- 
ing all that time the Yaquis were at peace with the world. 
Their reputation as a naturally peaceful nation was 
established. It remained for the government of Diaz to 
stir them into war. 

During these years of peace the Yaquis became part 
and parcel of the Mexican nation. They lived like other 
Mexicans. They had their own personal farms, their 
own homes, and they paid taxes on their property like 
other Mexicans. During the war against Maximilian 
they sent soldiers to help Mexico, and many of them 
distinguished themselves by brilliant service. 

But the Yaquis were goaded into war. The men at 
the head of the government of Sonora wanted the Yaqui 
lands. Moreover, they saw an opportunity for graft in 
bringing a large body of soldiers into the state. So they 
harassed the Yaquis. They sent bogus surveyors through 
the Yaqui valley to mark out the land and tell the peo- 


pie that the government had decided to give it to for- 
eigners. They confiscated $80,000 in a bank belonging 
to Chief Cajeme. Finally, they sent armed men to arrest 
Cajeme, and when the latter could not find him they 
set fire to his house and to those of his neighbors, and 
assaulted the women of the village, even Cajeme's wife 
not being respected. Finally, the victims were goaded 
into war. 

Since that day twenty-five years ago the Mexican gov- 
ernment has maintained an army almost perpetually in 
the field against the Yaquis, an army ranging in num- 
bers from 2,000 to 6,000 men. Thousands of soldiers 
and tens of thousands of Yaquis have been killed in bat- 
tle and many hundreds of the latter have been executed 
after being taken prisoners. After a few years Chief 
Cajeme was captured and publicly executed in the pres- 
ence of a large body of his people who had been taken 
prisoner with him. Tetabiate, another Yaqui, was 
promptly elected to Cajeme's place, and the fight went 
on. Finally, in 1894, at one fell swoop, as it were, the 
ground was literally taken from under the feet of the 
rebels. By act of the federal government the best of 
their lands were taken from them and handed over to 
one man, General Lorenzo Torres, who is at this writing 
chief of the army in Sonora, then second in command. 

The government is credited with having been guilty 
of the most horrible atrocities. Two examples are cited 
by Santa de Cabora, a Mexican writer, as follows: 

"On May 17, 1892, General Otero, of the Mexican army, 
ordered the imprisonment of the Yaquis, men, women and 
children, in the town of Navajoa, and hung so many of these 
people that the supply of rope in the town was exhausted, it 
being necessary to use each rope five or six times." 

"A colonel in the army, Antonio Rincon, in July, of 1892, 
took two hundred Yaauis» men* women and children, pcisoneis. 


and carried them in the gunboat El Democrata and dropped 
them in the ocean between the mouth of the Yaqui river and 
the seaport of Guaymas, all of them perishing." 

A report was circulated along our Mexican border 
that an incident similar to the last mentioned happened 
in February, 1908. Colonel Francisco B. Cruz, who 
was in charge of the exiles and who claims to have been 
on board of the gunboat and witnessed the incident, de- 
clared to me, however, that this report was not true. 
The Yaquis were drowned, he declared, but not by the 
authorities, and, since at that time the government was 
not killing any Yaquis whom it could catch and sell, I 
accept the version of Colonel Cruz as the correct one. 

"Suicide — nothing but suicide," asseverated the Colo- 
nel. "Those Indians wanted to cheat me out of my com- 
mission money and so they threw their children into the 
sea and jumped in after them. I was on board myself 
and saw it all. I heard a loud cry, and looking, saw 
some of the crew running to the starboard side of the 
vessel. I saw the Yaquis in the water. Then there was 
a cry from the port side and I saw the Yaquis jumping 
overboard on that side. We lowered boats, but it was 
no use ; they all went down before we got to them." 

"Every soldier who kills a Yaqui," an army physician 
who served two years with the troops against the Yaquis 
and whom I met in Mexico City, told me, "is paid a re- 
ward of one hundred dollars. To prove his feat the 
soldier must show the ears of his victim. 'Bring in the 
ears/ is the standing order of the officers. Often I 
have seen a company of soldiers drawn up in a square 
and one of their number receiving one hundred dollars 
for a pair of ears. 

"Sometimes small squads of the Indians are cap- 
tured, and when I was with the army it was customary 


to offer the men freedom and money to lead the troops 
over the secret mountain trails to the fastnesses of their 
friends. The alternative was the rope, yet I never knew 
of one of these captives turning traitor. *Give me the 
rope,' they would cry, and I have seen such a man run, 
put the rope round his own neck and demand that it be 
tightened quickly, that he might not again be subjected 
to so base an insult.'* 

I have before me a letter signed by G. G. Lelevier, a 
former member of the Mexican Liberal Party and editor 
of one of their papers in the United States. Lelevier is 
said to have afterwards gone over to the cause of the 
government. Commenting on a photograph showing a 
lot of Yaquis hanging from a tree in Sonora, the let- 
ter says: 

"This picture resembles very much another one that 
was taken at the Yaqui river when General Angel Mar- 
tinez was in command of the Mexican army of occu- 
pation. It was the custom of this general to hang men be- 
cause they could not tell him where the insurrecto Yaquis 
were at the time, and he went so far as to lasso the 
women of the Yaquis and to hang them also. It went 
on so until the chief of the geographical commission re- 
ported the facts to the City of Mexico and threatened to 
resign if the practice continued. Then this monster of a 
general was removed. 

"But later on Governor Rafael Ysabal — it must have 
been in 1902 — made a raid on Tiburon Island where 
some peaceful Yaquis had taken refuge, and then and 
there ordered the Seri Indians to bring to him the 
right hand of every Yaqui there, with the alternative of 
the Seris themselves being exterminated. Doctor Boido 
took a snapshot with a kodak, and you could see in it 
the governor laughing at the sight of a bunch of hands 


that had been brought to him and that were dangling 
from the end of a cane. This picture was even pub- 
lished in derision of the exploits of Governor Ysabal 
in the newspaper El Imparcial, of Mexico City." 

In 1898 the government troops were armed for the 
first time with the improved Mauser rifle, and in that 
year they met and wiped out an army of Yaquis at 
Mazacoba, the killed numbering more than 1,000. This 
ended warfare on anything like an equal footing. There 
were no more large battles; the Yaqui warriors were 
merely hunted. Thousands of the Indians surrendered. 
Their leaders were executed, and they and their fami- 
lies were granted a new territory to the north, to which 
they journeyed as to a promised land. But it proved to 
be a barren desert, entirely waterless and one of the 
most uninhabitable spots in all America. Hence the 
peaceful Yaquis moved to other sections of the state, 
some of them becoming wage-workers in the mines, 
others finding employment on the railroads, and still 
others becoming peons on the farms. Then and there 
this portion of the Yaqui nation lost its identity and 
became merged with the peoples about it. But it is 
these Yaquis, the peaceful ones, who are sought out and 
deported to Yucatan. 

A few Yaquis, perhaps four or five thousand, refused 
to give up the battle for their lands. The found inac- 
cessible peaks and established a stronghold high up in 
the Bacetete mountains, which border upon their former 
home. Here flow never-ceasing springs of cold water. 
Here, on the almost perpendicular cliffs, they built their 
little homes, planted their corn, raised their families and 
sang, sometimes, of the fertile valleys which once were 
theirs. The army of several thousand soldiers still 
hunted them. The soldiers could not reach those moun- 


tain heights, but they could wait for the Indians in the 
gorges and shoot them as they came down in search of 
meat, of clothes, and of other comforts which they 
yearned to add to their existence. 

Many small bands of these so-called renegades have 
been killed. Others have been captured and executed. 
Rumors of peace have traveled the rounds only to prove 
untrue a little later. Peace conferences with the gov- 
ernment have been held, but have failed because the 
"renegades" could secure no guarantee that they would 
not be either executed or deported after they laid down 
their arms. In January, 1909, the report was officially 
sent out by Governor Torres that Chief Bule and sev- 
eral hundred of his warriors had surrendered on con- 
ditions. But later troubles showed this announcement 
to have been premature. There are at least a few hun- 
dred Yaquis among those Bacetete crags. They refuse 
to surrender. They are outlaws. They are cut off from 
the world. They have no connection with the peaceful 
element of their nation that is scattered all over the state 
of Sonora. Yet the existence of this handful of "rene- 
gades" is the only excuse the Mexican government has 
for gathering up peaceful Mexican families and deport- 
ing them — at the rate of 500 per month ! 

Why should a lot of women and children and old men 
be made to suffer because some of their fourth cousins 
are fighting away off there in the hills ? The army physi- 
cian with whom I talked in Mexico City answered the 
question in very energetic terms. 

"The reason?" he said. "There is no reason. It is 
only an excuse. The excuse is that the workers con- 
tribute to the support of the fighters. If it is true, it 
is true only in an infinitesimal minority of cases, for the 
vast majority of the Yaquis are entirely out of touch 


with the fighters. There may be a few guilty parties, 
but absolutely no attempt is made to find them out. 
For what a handful of patriotic Yaquis may possibly be 
doing tens of thousand are made to suffer and die. It 
is as if a whole town were put to the torch because one 
of its inhabitants had stolen a horse.'* 

The deportation of Yaquis to Yucatan and other slave 
sections of Mexico began to assume noticeable propor- 
tions about 1905. It was carried out on a small scale 
at first, then on a larger one. 

Finally, in the spring of 1908, a despatch was pub- 
lished in American and Mexican newspapers saying that 
President Diaz had issued a sweeping order decreeing 
that every Yaqui, wherever found, men women and chil- 
dren, should be gathered up by the War Department 
and deported to Yucatan. 

During my journeys in Mexico I inquired many times 
as to the authenticity of this despatch, and the story was 
confirmed. It was confirmed by men in the public de- 
partments of Mexico City. It was confirmed by Colo- 
nel Cruz, chief deporter of Yaquis. And it is certain 
that such an order, wherever it may have come from, 
was carried out. Yaqui workingmen were taken daily 
from mines, railroads and farms, old workingmen who 
never owned a rifle in their lives, women, children, babes, 
the old and the young, the weak and the strong. Guarded 
by soldiers and rurales they traveled together over the 
exile road. And there are others besides Yaquis who 
traveled over that road. Pimas and Opatas, other In- 
dians, Mexicans, and any dark people found who were 
poor and unable to protect themselves were taken, tagged 
as Yaquis, and sent away to the land of henequen. What 
becomes of them there? That is what I went to Yuca- 
tan to find out. 


The secret that lies at the roots of the whole Yaqui 
affair was revealed to me and the whole matter summed 
up in a few words by Colonel Francisco B. Cruz of the 
Mexican army, in one of the most remarkable interviews 
which I obtained during my entire trip to Mexico. 

For the past four years this officer has been in immedi- 
ate charge of transporting all the Yaqui exiles to Yuca- 
tan. I was fortunate enough to take passage on the 
same steamer with him returning from Progreso to 
Veracruz. He is a stout, comfortable, talkative old cam- 
paigner of about sixty years. The steamship people put 
us in the same stateroom, and, as the colonel had some 
government passes which he hoped to sell me, we were 
soon on the most confidential terms. 

'Tn the past three and one-half years," he told me, *T 
have delivered just fifteen thousand seven hundred Ya- 
quis in Yucatan — delivered, mind you, for you must re- 
member that the government never allows me enough ex- 
pense money to feed them properly, and from ten to 
twenty per cent die on the journey. 

"These Yaquis," he said, "sell in Yucatan for $65 
apiece — men, women and children. Who gets the money ? 
Well, $10 goes to me for my services. The rest is turned 
over to the Secretary of War. This, however, is only 
a drop in the bucket, for I know this to be a fact, that 
every foot of land, every building, every cow, every 
burro, everything left behind by the Yaquis when they 
are carried away by the soldiers, is appropriated for the 
private use of authorities of the state of Sonora." 

So according to this man, who has himself made at 
least $157,000 out of the business, the Yaquis are de- 
ported for the money there is in it — first, the money 
from the appropriation of their property, second, the 
money from the sale of their bodies. He declared to me 


that the deportations would never stop until the last 
possible dollar had been squeezed out of the business. 
The company of officials who have rotated in office in 
Sonora for the past twenty-five years would see to that, 
he said. 

These little confidences of the colonel were given me 
merely as bits of interesting gossip to a harmless for- 
eigner. He had no notion of exposing the officials and 
citizens whose names he mentioned. He expressed no 
objection whatever to the system, rather gloried in it. 

"In the past six months," the fat colonel told me, "I 
have handled three thousand Yaquis — five hundred a 
month. That's the capacity of the government boats 
between Guaymas and San Bias, but I hope to see it in- 
creased before the end of the year. I have just been 
given orders to hurry 1,500 more to Yucatan as quickly 
as I can get them there. Ah, yes, I ought to have a com- 
fortable little fortune for myself before this thing is 
over, for there are at least 100,000 more Yaquis to come ! 

"One hundred thousand more to come!" he repeated 
at my exclamation. "Yes, one hundred thousand, if 
one. Of course, theyVe not all really Yaquis, but — " 

And President Diaz's chief deporter of Sonora work- 
ing-people lolling there upon the deck of the freight 
steamer passed me a smile which was illuminating, ex- 
ceedingly illuminating — ^yes, terribly illuminating! 



Yaquis traveling to Yucatan, after arriving at the port 
of Guaymas, Sonora, embark on a government war ves- 
sel for the port of San Bias. After a journey of four 
or five days they are disembarked and are driven by foot 
over some of the roughest mountains in Mexico, from 
San Bias to Tepic and from Tepic to San Marcos. As 
the crow flies the distance is little more than one hun- 
dred miles; as the road winds it is twice as far, and re- 
quires from fifteen to twenty days to travel. "Bull pens," 
or concentration camps, are provided all along the route, 
and stops are made at the principal cities. All families 
are broken up on the way, the chief points at which this 
is done being Guaymas, San Marcos, Guadalajara and 
Mexico City. From San Marcos the unfortunates are 
carried by train over the Mexican Central Railway to 
Mexico City and from Mexico City over the Interna- 
tional Railway to Veracruz. Here they are bundled into 
one of the freight steamers of the "National" company, 
and in from two to five days are disembarked at Pro- 
greso and turned over to the waiting consignees. 

On the road to Yucatan the companion of my jour- 
neys, L. Gutierrez DeLara, and I, saw gangs of Yaqui 
exiles, saw them in the "bull pen" in the midst of the 
army barracks in Mexico City ; finally we joined a party 
of them at Veracruz and traveled with them on ship 
from Veracruz to Progreso. 

There were 104 of them shoved into the unclean hole 
astern of the freight steamer Sinaloa, on which we em- 
barked. We thought it might be difficult to obtain the 


Opportunity to visit this unclean hole, but, luckily, we 
were mistaken. The guard bent readily to friendly 
words, and before the ship was well under way my 
companion and I were seated on boxes in the hold with 
a group of exiles gathered about us, some of them, to- 
bacco-famished, pulling furiously at the cigarettes which 
we had passed among them, others silently munching the 
bananas, apples and oranges which we had brought. 

There were two old men past fifty, one of them small, 
active, sharp-featured, talkative, dressed in American 
overalls, jumper, shoes and slouch hat, with the face 
and manner of a man bred to civilization ; the other, tall, 
silent, impassive, wrapped to the chin in a gay colored 
blanket, the one comfort he had snatched from his few 
belongings as the soldiers were leading him away. There 
was a magnificent specimen of an athlete under thirty, 
with a wizened baby girl of two held in the crook of one 
arm, an aggressive-faced woman of forty against whom 
was closely pressed a girl of ten shivering and shaking 
in the grasp of a malarial attack, two overgrown boys 
who squatted together in the background and grinned 
half foolishly at our questions, bedraggled women, 
nearly half of them with babies, and an astonishingly 
large number of little chubby-faced, bare-legged boys 
and girls who played uncomprehendingly about the floor 
or stared at us from a distance out of their big solemn 
black eyes. 

"Revolutionists?" I asked of the man in overalls and 

"No; workingmen." 


"Yes, one Yaqui," pointing to his friend in the blanket. 
"The rest are Pimas and Opatas." 


"Then why are you here?" 

"Ah, we are all Yaquis to General Torres. It makes 
no difference to him. You are dark. You dress in my 
clothes and you will be a Yaqui — to him. He makes no 
investigation, asks no questions — only takes you." 

"Where are you from ?" I asked of the old man. 

"Most of us are from Ures. They took us in the 
night and carried us away without allowing us to make 
up bundles of our belongings." 

"I am from Horcasitas," spoke up the young athlete 
with the babe on his arm. "I was plowing in the field 
when they came, and they did not give me time to un- 
hitch my oxen." 

"Where is the mother of your baby?" I inquired cu- 
riously of the young father. 

"Dead in San Marcos," he replied, closing his teeth 
tight. "That three weeks' tramp over the mountains 
killed her. They have allowed me to keep the little 
one — so far." 

"Did any of you make resistance when the soldiers 
came to take you?" I asked. 

"No," snswered the old man from Ures. "We went 
quietly; we did not try to run away." Then with a 
smile : "The officers found more trouble in looking after 
their men, their privates, to prevent them from running 
away, from deserting, than they did with us. 

"We were one hundred and fifty- three at the start, we 
of Ures," went on the old man. "Farm laborers, all of 
us. We worked for small farmers, poor men, men with 
not more than half a dozen families each in their em- 
ploy. One day a government agent visited the neighbor- 
hood and ordered the bosses to give an account of all 
their laborers. The bosses obeyed, but they did not 
know what it meant until a few days later, when the 


soldiers came. Then they knew, and they saw ruin 
coming to them as well as to us. They begged the offi- 
cers, saying: 'This is my peon. He is a good man. He 
has been with me for twenty years. I need him for the 
harvest.' " 

"It is true," broke in the woman with the ague- 
stricken child. "We were with Carlos Romo for twenty- 
two years. The night we were taken we were seven; 
now we are two." 

"And we were with Eugenio Morales for sixteen 
years," spoke another woman. 

"Yes," went on the spokesman, "our bosses followed 
us, begging, but it was no use. Some of them followed 
us all the way to Hermosillo. There was Manuel Gan- 
dara, and Jose Juan Lopez, and Franco Tallez, and Eu- 
genio Morales and the Romo brothers, Jose and Carlos. 
You will find them there now and they will tell you that 
what we say is true. They followed us, but it was no 
use. They had to go back and call vainly at our empty 
houses for laborers. We were stolen — and they were 
robbed ! 

"They died on the way like starving cattle," went on 
the old man from Ures. "When one fell ill he never 
got well again. One woman was deathly sick at the 
start. She begged to be left behind, but they wouldn't 
leave her. She was the first to fall — it happened on the 
train between Hermosillo and Guaymas. 

"But the crudest part of the trail was between San 
Bias and San Marcos. Those women with babies! It 
was awful! They dropped down in the dust again and 
again.^ Two never got up again, and we buried them 
ourselves there beside the road." 

"There were burros in San Bias," interrupted a 
woman, "and mules and horses. Oh, why didn't they 


let US ride? But our men were good. When the little 
legs of the ninos were weary our men carried them on 
their backs. And when the three women who were far 
gone in pregnancy could walk no more our men made 
stretchers of twigs and carried them, taking turns. Yes, 
our men were good, but now they are gone. We do 
not see them any more!" 

"The soldiers had to tear me away from my husband/* 
said another, "and when I cried out they only laughed. 
The next night a soldier came and tried to take hold of 
me, but I pulled off my shoes and beat him with them. 
Yes, the soldiers bothered the women often, especially 
that week we starved in Mexico City, but always the 
women fought them back." 

"I have a sister in Yucatan," said a young woman un- 
der twenty. "Two years ago they carried her away. 
As soon as we arrive I shall try to find her. We will 
keep each other company, now that they have taken 
my husband from me. Tell me, is it so terribly hot in 
Yucatan as they say it is? I do not like hot weather, 
yet if they will only let me live with my sister I will not 

"To whom do all these bright little tads, these mu- 
chachos, all of the same size, belong?" I inquired. 

"Quien sahef' answered an old woman. "Their 
parents are gone, just as are our babes. They take our 
children from us and give us the children of strangers. 
And when we begin to love the new ones, they take 
them away, too. Do you see that woman huddled over 
there with her face in her hands? They took her four 
little boys at Guadalajara and left her nothing. Myself? 
Yes, they took my husband. For more than thirty years 
we had never been parted for a single night. But that 
made no difference ; he is gone. Yet perhaps I am lucky ; 


I still have my daughter. Do you think, though, that 
we may meet our husbands again in Yucatan?" 

As we breasted the Veracruz lighthouse, the shoulder 
of a Norther heaved itself against the side of the vessel, 
the ocean streamed in at the lower portholes and the 
quarters of the unhappy exiles were flooded with water. 
They fled for the deck, but here were met by flying 
sheets of rain, which drove them back again. Between 
the flooded hold and the flooded poop the exiles spent 
the night, and when, early the next morning, as we drove 
into the Coatzacoalcos river, I strolled aft again, I saw 
them lying about the deck, all of them drenched and 
shivering, some of them writhing in the throes of acute 

We steamed thirty miles up the Coatzacoalcos river, 
then anchored to the shore and spent a day loading jun- 
gle bulls for the tough beef market of New Orleans. 
Two hundred ordinary cattle may be coaxed through a 
hole in the side of a ship in the space of two hours, but 
these bulls were as wild as wolves, and each had to be 
half butchered before he would consent to walk in the 
straight and narrow way. Once inside, and ranged along 
the two sides of the vessel, they fought, trampled each 
other, bawled as loud as steam whistles, and in a num- 
ber of instances broke their head ropes and smashed 
through the flimsy railing which had been erected to 
prevent them from over-running other portions of the 
lower deck. In a bare space at the stern of the vessel, 
surrounded on three sides by plunging, bawling bulls, 
were the quarters of the "Yaquis." It was stay there 
and run the risk of being trampled, or choose the un- 
sheltered deck. For the remaining four days of the 
journey, one of which we spent waiting for the Norther 
to pass, the "Yaquis" chose the deck. 


At last we arrived at Progreso. As we entered the 
train for Merida we saw our friends being herded into 
the second class coaches. They left us at the little sta- 
tion of San Ignacio, on their way to a plantation belong- 
ing to Governor Olegario Molina, and we saw them no 

In Yucatan I soon learned what becomes of the Yaqui 
exiles. They are sent to the henequen plantations as 
slaves, slaves on almost exactly the same basis as are the 
100,000 Mayas whom I found on the plantations. They are 
held as chattels, they are bought and sold, they receive 
no wages, but are fed on beans, tortillas and putrid fish. 
They are beaten, sometimes beaten to death. They are 
worked from dawn until night in the hot sun beside the 
Mayas. The men are locked up at night. The women 
are required to marry Chinamen or Mayas. They are 
hunted when they run away, and are brought back by 
the police if they reach a settlement. Families, broken 
up in Sonora or on the way, are never permitted to re- 
unite. After they once pass into the hands of the planter 
the government cares no more for them, takes no more 
account of them. The government has received its 
money, and the fate of the Yaquis is in the hands of 
the planter. 

I saw many Yaquis in Yucatan. I talked with them. 
I saw them beaten. One of the first things that I saw 
on a Yucatan plantation was the beating of a Yaqui. 
His name was Rosanta Bajeca. 

The act, though not intentionally so, perhaps, was the- 
atrically staged. It was at 3 :45 o'clock in the morning, 
just after roll-call of the slaves. The slave gang was 
drawn up in front of the plantation store, the fitful rays 
of the lanterns sputtering high on the store front play- 
ing uncertainly over their dusky faces and dirty white 


forms. There were seven hundred of them. Now and 
then a brighter lantern beam shot all the way to the tow- 
ering tropical trees, which, standing shoulder to shoulder, 
walled in the grass-grown patio. Under the hanging 
lanterns and facing the ragged band stood the adminis- 
trador, or general manager, the mayordomo primero, or 
superintendent, and the lesser bosses, the mayordomos 
secundos, the majacol and the capataces. 

**Rosanta Bajeca!'* 

The name, squeaked out by the voice of the adminis- 
trador, brought from the crowd a young Yaqui, medium- 
sized, sinewy-bodied, clean-featured, with well-formed 
head erect on square shoulders, bony jaw fixed, dark, 
deep set eyes darting rapidly from one side to another 
of the circle which surrounded him, like a tiger forced 
out of the jungle and into the midst of the huntsmen. 

"Off with your shirt!" rasped the administrador, and 
at the words superintendent and foremen rmged closer 
about him. One reached for the garment, but the Yaqui 
fended the hand, then with the quickness of a cat, 
dodged a cane which swished at his bare head from the 
opposite direction. For one instant — no more — with the 
hate of his eyes he held the circle at bay, then with a 
movement of consent he waved them back, and with a 
single jerk drew the shirt over his head and bared his 
muscular bronze body, scarred and discolored from pre- 
vious beatings, for the whip. Submissive but dignified 
he stood there, for all the world like a captive Indian 
chief of a hundred years ago, contemptuously awaiting 
the torture of his enemies. 

Listlessly the waiting slaves looked on. A regiment 
of toil, they stood half a dozen deep, with soiled calico 
trousers reaching half way to the ankles or rolled to the 
knees, shirts of the same material with many gaping 


mouths showing the bare bronze skin beneath, bare legs, 
bare feet, battered grass hats held deferentially in the 
hands — a tatterdemalion lot, shaking the sleep from their 
eyes, blinking at the flickering lanterns. Three races 
there were, the sharp-visaged, lofty-browed Maya, abo- 
rigine of Yucatan, the tall, arrow-backed Chinaman and 
the swarthy, broad-fisted Yaqui from Sonora. 

At a third command of the administrador there 
stepped from the host of waiting slaves a giant Chinese. 
Crouching, he grasped the wrists of the silent Yaqui. 
The next moment he was standing straight with the 
Yaqui on his back in the manner of a tired child being 
carried by one of its elders. 

Not one of that throng who did not know what was 
coming, yet not until a capatas reached for a bucket 
hanging high on the store front did there come a ten- 
sion of nerves among those seven hundred men. The 
whipper extraordinary, known as a majocol, a deep- 
chested, hairy brute, bent over the bucket and soused 
his hands deep into the water within. Withdrawing 
them, he held high for inspection four dripping ropes, 
each three feet long. The thick writhing things in the 
dim lamplight seemed like four bloated snakes, and at 
sight of them the tired backs of the ragged seven hun- 
dred straightened with a jerk and an involuntary gasp 
rippled over the assemblage. Laggard slumber, though 
unsated, dropped from their eyes. At last all were 
awake, wide awake. 

The ropes were of native henequen braided tight and 
thick and heavy for the particular purpose in hand 
Water-soaked, to give them more weight and cutting 
power, they were admirably fitted for the work of 
"cleaning up," the term whereby corporal punishment 
is known on the plantations of Yucatan. 


The hairy majocol selected one of the four, tossed 
back the remaining three, the pail was carried away and 
the giant Chinaman squared off with the naked body of 
the victim to the gaze of his fellow bondsmen. The 
drama was an old one to them, so old that their eyes 
must have ached many times at the sight, yet for them 
it could never lose its fascination. Each knew that his 
own time was coming, if it had not already come, and 
not one possessed the physical power to turn his back 
upon the spectacle. 

Deliberately the majocol measured his distance, then 
as deliberately raised his arm high and brought it swiftly 
down again; the bloated snake swished through the air 
and fell with a spat across the glistening bronze shoul- 
ders of the Yaqui ! 

The administrador, a small, nervous man of many ges- 
tures, nodded his approval and glanced at his watch, the 
mayordomo, big, stolid, grinned slowly, the half dozen 
capataces leaned forward a little more obliquely in their 
eagerness, the regiment of slaves swayed bodily as by 
some invisible force, and a second gasp, painful and 
sharp like the bursting air from a severed windpipe, 
escaped them. 

Every eye was riveted tight upon that scene in the 
uncertain dimness of the early morning — the giant Chi- 
naman, bending slightly forward now, the naked body 
upon his shoulders, the long, uneven, livid welt that 
marked the visit of the wet rope, the deliberate, the ago- 
nizingly deliberate majocol, the administrador, watch in 
hand, nodding endorsement, the grinning mayordomo, 
the absorbed capataces. 

All held their breath for the second blow. I held my 
breath with the rest, held it for ages, until I thought 
the rope would never fall. Not until I saw the finger 


signal of the administrador did I know that the blows 
were delivered by the watch and not until it was all over 
did I know that, in order to multiply the torture, six 
seconds were allowed to intervene between each stroke. 

The second blow fell, and the third, and the fourth. 
I counted the blows as they fell, ages apart. At the 
fourth the strong brown skin broke and little pin-heads 
of crimson pushed themselves out, burst, and started 
downward in thin tricklets. At the sixth the glistening 
back lost its rigidity and fell to quivering like a jelly- 
fish. At the ninth a low whine somewhere in the depths 
of that Yaqui, found its devious way outward and into 
the open. Oh, that whine! I hear it now, a hard, hard 
whine, as if indurated to diamond hardness by drilling 
its way to the air through a soul of adamant. 

At last the spats ceased — there were fifteen — the ad- 
ministrador, with a final nod, put away his watch, the 
giant Chinaman released his grip on the brown wrists 
and the Yaqui tumbled in a limp heap to the ground. 
He lay there for a moment, his face in his arms, his 
quivering, bleeding flesh to the sky, then a foreman 
stepped forward and put a foot roughly against his 

The Yaqui lifted his head, disclosing to the light a 
pair of glazed eyes and a face twisted with pain. A mo- 
ment later he rose to his feet and staggered forward to 
join his fellow bondsmen. In that moment the spell of 
breathless silence on the seven hundred snapped, the 
ranks moved in agitation and there rose a hum of low 
speech from every section of the crowd. The special 
"cleaning up" of the morning was over. Five minutes 
later the day's work on the farm had begun. 

Naturally I made inquiries about Rosanta Bajeca to 
find out what crime he had committed to merit fifteen 


lashes of the wet rope. I ascertained that he had been 
only a month in Yucatan, and but three days before had 
been put in the field with a harvesting gang to cut and 
trim the great leaves of the henequen plant. Two thou- 
sand a day was the regular stint for each slave, and 
Bajeca had been given three days in which to acquire 
the dexterity necessary to harvest the required number 
of leaves. He had failed. Hence the flogging. There 
had been no other fault. 

"It's a wonder," I remarked to a capatas, "that this 
Yaqui did not tear himself from the back of the China- 
man. It's a wonder he did not fight. He seems like a 
brave man ; he has the look of a fighter.'* 

The capataz chuckled. 

"One month ago he was a fighter," was the reply, 
"but a Yaqui learns many things in a month in Yucatan. 
Still, there was a time when we thought this dog would 
never learn. Now and then they come to us that way; 
they never learn; they're never worth the money that's 
paid for them." 

"Tell me about this one," I urged. 

"He fought; that's all. The day he came he was put 
to work loading bundles of leaves onto the elevator 
which leads to the cleaning machine. The mayordomo — 
yes, the mayordomo primero — happened along and 
punched the fellow in the stomach with his cane. A 
half minute later a dozen of us were struggling to pull 
that Yaqui wolf away from the throat of the mayordomo. 
We starved him for a day and then dragged him out for 
a cleaning up. But he fought with his fingers and with 
his teeth until a capatas laid him out with the blunt 
edge of a machete. After that he tasted the rope daily 
for a while, but every day for no less than a week the 
fool fought crazily on until he kissed the earth under 


the weight of a club. But our majocol never faltered. 
That majocol is a genius. He conquered the wolf. He 
wielded the rope until the stubborn one surrendered, un- 
til that same Yaqui came crawling, whimpering, on hands 
and knees and licked with his naked tongue the hand of 
the man who had beaten him!" 

During my travels in Yucatan I was repeatedly 
struck with the extremely human character of the peo- 
ple whom the Mexican government calls Yaquis. The 
Yaquis are Indians, they are not white, yet when one 
converses with them in a language mutually understood 
one is struck with the likenesses of the mental processes 
of White and Brown. I was early convinced that the 
Yaqui and I were more alike in mind than in color. I 
became convinced, too, that the family attachments of 
the Yaqui mean quite as much to the Yaqui as the fam- 
ily attachments of the American mean to the American. 
Conjugal fidelity is the cardinal virtue of the Yaqui 
home and it seems to be so not because of any tribal 
superstition of past times or because of any teachings 
of priests, but because of a constitutional tenderness 
sweetened more and more with the passing of the years, 
for the one with whom he had shared the meat and the 
shelter and the labor of life, the joys and sorrows of 

Over and over again I saw this exemplified on the ex- 
ile road and in Yucatan. The Yaqui woman feels as 
keenly the brutal snatching away of her babe as would 
the cultivated American woman. The heart-strings of 
the Yaqui wife are no more proof against a violent and 
unwished- for separation from her husband than would 
be the heart-strings of the refined mistress of a beauti- 
ful American home. 

The Mexican government forbids divorce and re- 


marriage within its domain, but for the henequen plant- 
ers of Yucatan all things are possible. To a Yaqui 
woman a native of Asia is no less repugnant than he is 
to an American woman, yet one of the first barbarities 
the henequen planter imposes upon the Yaqui slave 
woman, freshly robbed of the lawful husband of her 
bosom, is to compel her to marry a Chinaman and live 
with him! 

"We do that," explained one of the planters to me, 
"in order to make the Chinamen better satisfied and less 
inclined to run away. And besides we know that every 
new babe born on the place will some day be worth any- 
where from $500 to $1,000 cashT 

The cultivated white woman, you say, would die of 
the shame and the horror of such conditions. But so 
does the brown woman of Sonora. No less a personage 
than Don Enrique Camara Zavala, president of the 
"Camara de Agricola de Yucatan," and a millionaire 
planter himself, told me: 

"If the Yaquis last out the first year they generally 
get along all right and make good workers, but the 
trouble is, at least two-thirds of them die off in the first 
tzvelve months!" 

On the ranch of one of the most famous henequen 
kings we found about two hundred Yaquis. One-third 
of these were men, who were quartered with a large 
body of Mayas and Chinamen. Entirely apart from 
these, and housed in a row of new one-room huts, each 
set in a tiny patch of uncultivated land, we discovered 
the Yaqui women and children. 

We found them squatting around on their bare floors 
or nursing an open-air fire and a kettle just outside the 
back door. We found no men among them, Yaquis or 


Chinamen, for they had arrived only one month before — 
all of them — f rom Sonora. 

In one house we found as many as fourteen inmates. 
There was a woman past fifty with the strength of an 
Indian chief in her face and with words which went to 
the mark like an arrow to a target. There was a com- 
fortable, home-like woman with a broad, pock-marked 
face, pleasant words and eyes which kindled with 
friendliness despite her troubles. There were two woman 
who watched their fire and listened only. There was a 
girl of fifteen, a bride of four months, but now alone, 
a wonderfully comely girl with big eyes and soft mouth, 
who sat with her back against the wall and smiled and 
smiled — until she cried. There was a sick woman who 
lay on the floor and groaned feebly but never looked up, 
and there were eight children. 

*'Last week we were fifteen," said the home-like 
woman, "but one has already gone. They never get 
well." She reached over and gently stroked the hair of 
the sister who lay on the floor. 

"Were you all married?" I asked. 

"All," nodded the old woman with the face of a chief. 

"And where are they now ?" 

"Quien sahef" And she searched our eyes deep for 
the motive of our questions. 

"I am a Papago," reassured De Lara. "We are friends." 

"You are not working," I remarked. "What are you 

"Starving," said the old woman. 

"We get that once a week — for all of us," explained 
the home-like one, nodding at three small chunks of raw 
beef — less than a five-cent stew in the United States — 
which had just been brought from the plantation store. 


"Besides that we get only corn and black beans and not 
half enough of either of them." 

"We are like hogs; we are fed on corn," put in the 
old woman. "In Sonora we made our tortillas of wheat." 

"How long will they starve you?" I asked. 

"Until we marry Chinamen," flashed the old woman, 

"Yes," confirmed the home-like one. "Twice they have 
brought the Chinamen before us, lined them up, and 
said: 'Choose a man.' Twice." 

"And why didn't you choose?" 

This question several of the women answered in cho- 
rus. In words and wry faces they expressed their ab- 
horrence of the Chinamen, and with tremulous earnest- 
ness assured us that they had not yet forgotten their 
own husbands. 

"I begged them," said the old woman, "to let me off. 
I told them I was too old, that it was no use, that I was 
a woman no longer, but they said I must choose, too. 
They will not let me off; they say I will have to choose 
with the rest." 

"Twice they have lined us up," reiterated the home- 
like one, "and said we must choose. But we wouldn't 
choose. One woman chose, but when she saw the rest 
hang back she pushed the man away from her. They 
threatened us with the rope, but still we hung back. 
They will give us but one more chance, they say. Then 
if we do not choose, they will choose for us. And if we 
do not consent we will be put in the field and worked and 
whipped like the men." 

"And get twelve centavos a day (six cents American) 
to live on," said the old woman. "Twelve centavos a 
day with food at the store twice as dear as in Sonora!" 

"Next Sunday morning they will make us choose," re- 


peated the home-like woman. "And if we don't choose — " 

''Last Sunday they beat that sister there," said the old 
woman. "She swore she'd never choose, and they beat 
her just like they beat the men. Come, Refugio, show 
them your back." 

But the woman at the fire shrank away and hung her 
head in mortification. 

"No, no," she protested, then after a moment she mut- 
tered: "When the Yaqui men are beaten they die of 
shame, but the women can stand to be beaten ; they can- 
not die." 

"It's true," nodded the old woman, "the men die of 
shame sometimes — and sometimes they die of their own 

When we turned the talk to Sonora and to the long 
journey the voices of the women began to falter. They 
were from Pilares de Teras, where are situated the mines 
of Colonel Garcia. The soldiers had come in the day- 
time while the people were in the field picking the ripe 
corn from the stalks. They had been taken from their 
harvest labor and compelled to walk all the way to Her- 
mosillo, a three weeks' tramp. 

The Yaqui love for the one who suckled them is 
strong, and several of the younger women recounted the 
details of the parting from the mother. Then we spoke 
of their husbands again, but they held their tears until 
I asked the question : "How would you like to go back 
with me to your homes in Sonora?" 

That opened the flood-gates. The tears started first 
down the plump cheeks of the cheery, home-like woman, 
then the others broke in, one at a time, and at last the 
listening children on the floor were blubbering dolefully 
with their elders. Weeping, the unhappy exiles lost their 
last modicum of reserve. They begged us please to take 


them back to Sonora or to find their husbands for them. 
The old woman implored us to get word to her boss, 
Leonardo Aguirre, and would not be content until I had 
penned his name in my note-book. The bashful woman 
at the fire, aching for some comforting, hopeful words, 
parted her dress at the top and gave us a glimpse of the 
red marks of the lash upon her back. 

I looked into the face of my companion; the tears 
were trickling down his cheeks. As for me, I did not 
cry. I am ashamed now that I did not cry ! 

Such is the life of the Yaqui nation in its last chapter. 
When I looked upon those miserable creatures there I 
said:. "There can be nothing worse than this." But 
when I saw Valle Nacional I said: "This is worse than 



Valle Nacional is undoubtedly the worst slave hole in 
Mexico. Probably it is the worst in the world. When 
I visited Valle Nacional I expected to find it milder than 
Yucatan. I found it more pitiless. 

In Yucatan the Maya slaves die off faster than they 
are born and two-thirds of the Yaqui slaves are killed 
during the first year after their importation into the 
country. In Valle Nacional all of the slaves, all but a 
very few — perhaps five per cent — pass back to earth 
within a space of seven or eight months. 

This statement is almost unbelievable. I would not 
have believed it; possibly not even after I had seen the 
whole process of working them and beating them and 
starving them to death, were it not the fact that the 
masters themselves told me that it was true. And there 
are fifteen thousand of these Valle Nacional slaves — 
fifteen thousand new ones every year! 

"By the sixth or seventh month they begin to die off 
like flies at the first winter frost, and after that they're 
not worth keeping. The cheapest thing to do is to let 
them die ; there are plenty more where they came from." 

Word for word, this is a statement made to me by 
Antonio Pla, general manager of one-third the tobacco 
lands in Valle Nacional. 

"1 have been here for more than five years and every 
month I see hundreds and sometimes thousands of men, 
women and children start over the road to the valley, but 
I never see them come back. Of every hundred who go 
over the road not more than one ever sees this town 



again." This assertion was made to me by a station 
agent of the Veracruz al Pacifico railroad. 

"There are no survivors of Valle Nacional — no real 
ones/' a government engineer who has charge of the 
improvement of certain harbors told me. "Now and 
then one gets out of the valley and gets beyond El Hule. 
He staggers and begs his way along the weary road to- 
ward Cordoba, but he never gets back where he came 
from. Those people come out of the valley walking 
corpses, they travel on a little way and then they fall." 

This man's work has carried him much into Valle 
Niacional and he knows more of the country, probably, 
than does any Mexican not directly interested in the 
slave trade. 

"They die ; they all die. The bosses never let them go 
until they're dying." 

Thus declared one of the police officers of the town 
of Valle Nacional, which is situated in the center of the 
valley and is supported by it. 

And everywhere over and over again I was told the 
same thing. Even Manuel Lagunas, president e (mayor) 
of Valle Nacional, protector of the planters and a slave 
owner himself, said it. Miguel Vidal, secretary of the 
municipality, said it. The bosses themselves said it. The 
Indian dwellers of the mountain sides said it. The slaves 
said it. And when I had seen, as well as heard, I was 
convinced that it was the truth. 

The slaves of Valle Nacional are not Indians, as are 
the slaves of Yucatan. They are Mexicans. Some are 
skilled artizans. Others are artists. The majority of 
them are common laborers. As a whole, except for their 
rags, their bruises, their squalor and their despair, they 
are a very fair representation of the Mexican people. 
They are not criminals. Not more than ten per cent were 


even charged with any crime. The rest of them are 
peaceful, law-abiding citizens. Yet not one came to the 
valley of his own free will, not one would not leave the 
valley on an instant's notice if he or she could get away. 

Do not entertain the idea that Mexican slavery is con- 
fined to Yucatan and Valle Nacional. Conditions simi- 
lar to those of Valle Nacional are the rule in many sec- 
tions of Diaz-land, and especially in the states south of 
the capital. I cite Valle Nacional because it is most no- 
torious as a region of slaves, and because, as I have al- 
ready suggested, it presents just a little bit the worst ex- 
ample of chattel slavery that I know of. 

The secret of the extreme conditions of Valle Nacional 
is mainly geographical. Valle Nacional is a deep gorge 
from two to five miles wide and twenty miles long 
tucked away among almost impassable mountains in the 
extreme northwestern corner of the state of Oaxaca. 
Its mouth is fifty miles up the Papaloapan river from El 
Hule, the nearest railroad station, yet it is through El 
Hule that every human being passes in going to or com- 
ing from the valley. There is no other practical route 
in, no other one out. The magnificent tropical moun- 
tains which wall in the valley are covered with an im- 
penetrable jungle made still more impassable by jaguars, 
pumas and gigantic snakes. Moreover, there is no wagon 
road to Valle Nacional ; only a river and a bridle path — 
a bridle path which carries one now through the jungle, 
now along precipitous cliffs where the rider must dis- 
mount and crawl, leading his horse behind him, now 
across the deep, swirling current of the river. It takes 
a strong swimmer to cross this river at high water, yet 
a pedestrian must swim it more than once in order to 
get out of Valle Nacional. 

The equestrian must cross it five times— four times in 


a canoe alongside which his mount swims laboriously, 
once by fording, a long and difficult route over which 
large rocks must be avoided and deep holes kept away 
from. The valley itself is as flat as a floor, clear of all 
rank growth, and down its gentle slope winds the Papa- 
loapan river. The valley, the river and its rim form one 
of the most beautiful sights it has ever been my lot to 
look upon. 

Valle Kacional is three days' journey from Cordoba, 
two from El Hule. Stray travelers sometimes get as far 
as Tuztepec, the chief city of the political district, but 
no one goes on to Valle Nacional who has not business 
there. It is a tobacco country, the most noted in Mex- 
ico, and the production is carried on by about thirty large 
plantations owned and operated almost exclusively by 
Spaniards. Between El Hule and the head of the valley- 
are four towns, Tuztepec, Chiltepec, Jacatepec and Valle 
Nacional, all situated on the banks of the river, all pro- 
vided with policemen to hunt runaway slaves, not one 
of whom can get out of the valley without passing the 
towns. Tuztepec, the largest, is provided with ten po- 
licemen and eleven rurales (mounted country police). 
Besides, every runaway slave brings a reward of $10 
to the man or policeman who catches and returns him 
to his owner. 

Thus it will be understood how much the geograph- 
ical isolation of Valle Nacional accounts for its being 
just a little worse than most other slave districts of 
Mexico. Combined with this may be mentioned the 
complete understanding that is had with the government 
and the nearness to a practically inexhaustible labor 

Just as in Yucatan, the slavery of Valle Nacional is 
merely peonage, or labor for debt, carried to the extreme, 



although outwardly it takes a slightly different form — 
that of contract labor. 

The origin of the conditions of Valle Nacional was 
undoubtedly contract labor. The planters needed la- 
borers. They went to the expense of importing labor- 
ers with the understanding that the laborers would stay 
with their jobs for a given time. Some laborers tried 
to jump their contracts and the planters used force to 
compel them to stay. The advance money and the cost 
of transportation was looked upon as a debt which the 
laborer could be compelled to work out. From this it 
was only a step to so ordering the conditions of labor 
that the laborer could under no circumstances ever hope 
to get free. In time Valle Nacional became a word of 
horror with the working people of all Mexico. They re- 
fused to go there for any price. So the planters felt 
compelled to tell them they were going to take them 
somewhere else. From this it was only a step to play- 
ing the workman false all round, to formulating a con- 
tract not to be carried out, but to help get the laborer 
into the toils. Finally, from this it was only a step to 
forming a business partnership with the government, 
whereby the police power should be put into the hands 
of the planters to help them carry on a traffic in slaves. 

The planters do not call their slaves slaves. They 
call them contract laborers. I call them slaves because 
the moment they enter Valle Nacional they become the 
personal property of the planter and there is no law or 
government to protect them. 

In the first place the planter buys his slave for a given 
sum. Then he works him at will, feeds or starves him 
to suit himself, places armed guards over him day and 
night, beats him, pays him no money, kills him, and the 
laborer has no recourse. Call it by another name if it 


pleases you. I call it slavery only because I do not 
know of a name that will fit the conditions better. 

I have said that no laborer sent to Valle Nacional to 
become a slave travels the road of his own free will. 
There are just two ways employed to get them there. 
They are sent over the road either by a jefe politico or 
by a "labor agent" working in conjunction with a jefe 
politico or other officials of the government. 

A jefe politico is a civil officer who rules political 
districts corresponding to our counties. He is appointed 
by the president or by the governor of his state and is 
also mayor, or presidente, of the principal town or city 
in his district. In turn he usually appoints the mayors of 
the towns under him, as well as all other officers of im- 
portance. He has no one to answer to except his gov- 
ernor — ^unless the national president feels like interfering 
— and altogether is quite a little Czar in his domain. 

The methods employed by the jefe politico working 
alone are very simple. Instead of sending petty prison- 
ers to terms in jail he sells them into slavery in Valle 
Nacional. And as he pockets the money himself, he 
naturally arrests as many persons as he can. This method 
is followed more or less by the jefes politicos of all the 
leading cities of southern Mexico. 

The jefe politico of each of the four largest cities 
in southern Mexico, so I was told by Manuel La- 
gunas, by "labor agents," as well as by others whose 
veracity in the matter I have no reason to question 
— pays an annual rental of $10,000 per year for 
his office. The office would be worth no such amount 
were it not for the spoils of the slave trade and other lit- 
tle grafts which are indulged in by the holder. Lesser 
jefes pay their governors lesser amounts. They send 
their victims over the road in gangs of from ten to one 


hundred or even more. They get a special government 
rate from the railroads, send along government-salaried 
rurales to guard them; hence the selling price of $45 to 
$50 per slave is nearly all clear profit. 

But only ten per cent, of the slaves are sent directly to 
Valle Nacional by the jefes politicos. There is no basis 
in law whatsoever for the proceeding, and the jefes politi- 
cos prefer to work in conjunction with "labor agents." 
There is also no basis in law for the methods employed 
by the "labor agents," but the partnership is profitable. 
The officials are enabled to hide behind the *'labor 
agents" and the "labor agents" are enabled to work under 
the protection of the officials and absolutely without fear 
of criminal prosecution. 

In this partnership of the government and the labor 
agent — ^popularly known as an enganchador (snarer) — 
the function of the labor agent is to snare the laborer, 
the function of the government to stand behind him, help 
him, protect him, give him low transportation rates and 
free guard service, and finally, to take a share of the 

The methods employed by the labor agent in snaring 
the laborer are many and various. One is to open an em- 
ployment office and advertise for workers who are to be 
given high wages, a comfortable home and plenty of 
freedom somewhere in the south of Mexico. Free trans- 
portation is offered. These inducements always cause 
a certain number to take the bait, especially men with 
families who want to move with their families to a more 
prosperous clime. The husband and father is given an 
advance fee of $5 and the whole family is locked up 
in a room as securely barred as a jail. 

After a day or two, as they are joined by others, they 
come to have misgivings. Perhaps they ask to be let 


out, and then they find that they are indeed prisoners. 
They are told that they are in debt and will be held until 
they work out their debt. A few days later the door 
opens and they file out. They find that rurales are all 
about them. They are marched through a back street 
to a railroad station, where they are put upon the train. 
They try to get away, but it is no use ; they are prisoners. 
In a few days they are in Valle Nacional. 

Usually the laborer caught in this way is taken through 
the formality of signing a contract. He is told that he 
is to get a good home, good food, and one, two or three 
dollars a day wages for a period of six months or a year. 
A printed paper is shoved under his nose and the engan- 
chandor rapidly points out several alluring sentences 
written thereon. A pen is put quickly into his hand and 
he is told to sign in a hurry. The five dollars advance 
fee is given him to clinch the bargain and put him in debt 
to the agent. He is usually given a chance to spend this, 
or a part of it, usually for clothing or other necessaries 
in order that he may be unable to pay it back when he 
discovers that he has been trapped. The blanks on the 
printed contract — fixing the wages, etc. — are usually 
filled out afterwards by the labor agent or the consignee. 

In Mexico City and other large centers of population 
there are permanently maintained places called casas de 
los enganchadores (houses of the snarers). They are 
regularly known to the police and to large slave buyers 
of the hot lands. Yet they are nothing more nor less 
than private jails into which are enticed laborers, who 
are held there against their will until such time as they 
are sent away in gangs guarded by the police powers of 
the government. 

A third method employed by the labor agent is out- 
right kidnapping. I have heard of many cases of the 


kidnapping of women and of men. Hundreds of half- 
drunken men are picked up about the pulque shops of 
Mexico City every season, put under lock and key, and 
later hurried off to Valle Nacional. Children, also, are 
regularly kidnapped for the Valle Nacional trade. The 
official records of Mexico City say that during the year 
ending September 1, 1908, 360 little boys between the 
ages of six and twelve disappeared on the streets. Some 
of these have later been located in Valle Nacional. 

During my first Mexican trip El Imparcial, a leading 
daily newspaper of Mexico, printed a story of a boy of 
seven who had disappeared while his mother was looking 
into the windows of a pawn shop. A frantic search failed 
to locate him; he was an only child, and as a result of 
sorrow the father drank himself to death in a few days* 
time, while the mother went insane and also died. Three 
months later, the boy, ragged and footsore, struggled 
up the steps and knocked at the door that had been his 
parents'. He had been kidnapped and sold to a tobacco 
planter. But he had attained the well-nigh impossible. 
With a boy of nine, he had eluded the plantation guards, 
and, by reason of their small size, the two had escaped 
observation, and, by stealing a canoe, had reached El 
Hule. By slow stages, begging their food on the way, 
the baby tramps had reached home. 

The typical life story of a labor agent I heard in 
Cordoba on my way to the valley. It was told me first 
by a negro contractor from New Orleans, who had 
been in the country for about fifteen years. It was told 
me again by the landlord of my hotel. Later, it was 
confirmed by several tobacco planters in the valley. The 
story is this: 

Four years ago Daniel T , an unsuccessful Span- 
ish adventurer, arrived, penniless, in Cordoba. In a few 


days he was having trouble with his landlord over the 
non-payment of rent. But he had learned a thing or 
two in those few days, and he set about to take advan- 
tage of his knowledge. He went for a stroll about the 
streets and, coming upon a farm laborer, thus addressed 

"Would you care to earn dos reales (25 centavos) 
very easily, my man?" 

Of course the man cared, and in a few minutes he 
was on his way to the Spaniard's room carrying a "mes- 
sage." The wily fellow took another route, arrived first, 
met the messenger at the door, took him by the neck, 
and, dragging him inside, gagged and bound him and 
left him on the floor while he went out to hunt up a 
labor agent. That night the adventurer sold his prisoner 
for $20, paid his rent, and immediately began laying 
plans for repeating the operation on a larger scale. 

The incident marked the entrance of this man into 
the business of "labor contracting." In a few months 
he had made his bargain with the political powers of 
Mexico City, of Veracruz, of Oaxaca, of Tuztepec and 

other places. Today he is El Senor Daniel T . I 

saw his home, a palatial mansion with the sign of three 
cocks above the door. He uses a private seal and is 
said to be worth $100,000, all acquired as a "labor agent." 

The prevailing price in 1908 for men was $45 each, 
women and children half price. In 1907, before the 
panic, it was $60 per man. All slaves entering the valley 
must wait over at Tuztepec, where Rodolpho Pardo, the 
jefe politico of the district, counts them and exacts a toll 
of ten per cent of the purchase price, which he puts into 
his own pocket. 

The open partnership of the government in the slave 
traffic must necessarily have some excuse. The excuse 


is the debt, the $5 advance fee usually paid by the labor 
agent to the laborer. It is unconstitutional, but it serves. 
The presidente of Valle Nacional told me, "There is not 
a police official in all southern Mexico who will not 
recognize that advance fee as a debt Mid acknowledge 
your right to take the body of the laborer where you 

When the victim arrives in the valley of tobacco he 
learns that the promises of the labor agent were made 
merely to entrap him. Moreover, he learns also that 
the contract — if he has been lucky enough to get a peep 
at that instrument — was made exactly for the same pur- 
pose. As the promises of the labor agent belie the 
provisions of the contract, so the contract belies the 
actual facts. The contract usually states that the laborer 
agrees to sell himself for a period of six months, but 
no laborer with energy left in his body is by any chance 
set free in six months. The contract usually states that the 
employer is bound to furnish medical treatment for the 
laborers; the fact is that there is not a single physician 
for all the slaves of Valle Nacional. Finally, the con- 
tract usually binds the employer to pay the men fifty 
centavos (25 cents American) per day as wages, and the 
women three pesos a month ($1.50 American), but I 
was never able to find one who ever received one copper 
centavo from his master — never anything beyond the 
advance fee paid by the labor agent. 

The bosses themselves boasted to me — several of them 
— that they never paid any money to their slaves. Yet 
they never called their system slavery. They claimed 
to "keep books" on their slaves and juggle the accounts 
in such a way as to keep them always in debt. "Yes, 
the wages are fifty centavos a day," they would say, 
"but they must pay us back what we give to bring them 


here. And they must give us interest on it, too. And 
they must pay for the clothing that we give them — and 
the tobacco, and anything else." 

This is exactly the attitude of every one of the to- 
bacco planters of Valle Nacional. For clothing, and 
tobacco, and "anything else," they charge ten prices. It 
is no exaggeration. Senor Rodriguez, proprietor of the 
farm "Santa Fe," for example, showed me a pair of 
unbleached cotton pa jama-like things that the slaves 
use for pantaloons. His price, he said, was three dollars 
a pair. A few days later I found the same thing in 
Veracruz at thirty cents. 

Trousers at $3, shirts the same price — suits of clothes 
so flimsy that they wear out and drop off in three weeks' 
time. Eight suits in six months at $6 is $48. Add $45, 
the price of the slave; add $5, the advance fee; add $2 
for discounts, and there's the $90 wages of the six months 

Such is keeping books to keep the slave a slave. On 
the other hand, when you figure up the cost of the slave 
to yourself, it is quite different. "Purchase price, food, 
clothes, wages — everything," Senor Rodriguez told me, 
"costs from $60 to $70 per man for the first six months 
of service." 

Add your purchase price, advance fee and suits at 
cost, 60 cents each, and we discover that between $5 and 
$15 are left for both food and wages for each six months. 
It all goes for food — beans and tortillas. 

Yes, there is another constant item of expense that 
the masters must pay — the burial fee in the Valle 
Nacional cemetery. It is $1.50. I say this is a constant 
item of expense because practically all the slaves die 
and are supposed to be buried. The only exception to 
the rule occurs when, in order to save the $1.50, the 


masters bury their slaves themselves or throw them to 
the alligators of the neighboring swamps. 

Every slave is guarded night and day. At night he 
is locked up in a dormitory resembling a jail. In addi- 
tion to its slaves, each and every plantation has its 
mandador, or superintendent, its cabos, who combine 
the function of overseer and guard; and several free 
laborers to run the errands of the ranch and help round 
up the runaways in case of a slave stampede. 

The jails are large barn-like buildings, constructed 
strongly of young trees set upright and wired together 
with many strands of barbed wire fencing. The win- 
dows are iron barred, the floors dirt. There is no fur- 
niture except sometimes long, rude benches which serve 
as beds. The mattresses are thin grass mats. In such 
a hole sleep all the slaves, men, women and children, 
the number ranging, according to the size of the planta- 
tion, from seventy to four hundred. 

They are packed in like sardines in a box, crowded 
together like cattle in a freight car. You can figure it 
out for yourself. On the ranch "Santa Fe" the dormi- 
tory measures 75 by 18 feet, and it accommodates 150. 
On the ranch "La Sepultura," the dormitory is 40 by 
15 feet, and it accommodates 70. On the ranch "San 
Cristobal," the dormitory is 100 by 50 feet, and it 
accommodates 350. On the ranch "San Juan del Rio," the 
dormitory is 80 by 90, and it accommodates 400. From 
nine to eighteen square feet for each person to lie down 
in — so runs the space. And on not a single ranch did 
I find a separate dormitory for the women or the chil- 
dren. Women of modesty and virtue are sent to Valle 
Nacional every week and are shoved into a sleeping 
room with scores and even hundreds of others, most 


of them men, the door is locked on them and they ar* 
left to the mercy of the men. 

Often honest, hard-working Mexicans are taken into 
Valle Nacional with their wives and children. If the 
wife is attractive in appearance she goes to the planter 
or to one or more of the bosses. The children see theil 
mother being taken away and they know what is to 
become of her. The husband knows it, but if he makes 
objection he is answered with a club. Time and time 
again I have been told that this was so, by masters, by 
slaves, by officials. And the women who are thrust into 
the sardine box must take care of themselves. 

One-fifth of the slave^ of Valle Nacional are women ; 
one-third are boys under fifteen. The boys work in 
the fields with the men. They cost less, they last well, 
and at some parts of the work, such as planting the 
tobacco, they are more active and hence more useful. 
Boys as young as six sometimes are seen in the field 
planting tobacco. Women are worked in the field, too, 
especially during the harvest time, but their chief work 
is as household drudges. They serve the master and 
the mistress, if there is a mistress, and they grind the 
corn and cook the food of the male slaves. In every 
slave house I visited I found from three to a dozen 
women grinding corn. It is all done by hand with two 
pieces of stone called a metate. The flat stone is placed 
on the floor, the woman kneels beside it, bends almost 
double and works the stone roller up and down. The 
movement is something like that of a woman washing 
clothes, but it is much harder. I asked the presidente 
of Valle Nacional why the planters did not purchase 
cheap mills for grinding the corn, or why they did not 
combine and buy a mill among them, instead of breaking 


several hundred backs yearly in the work. "Women are 
cheaper than machines," was the reply. 

In Valle Nacional the slaves seemed to me to work 
all the time. I saw them working in the morning twi- 
light. I saw them working in the evening twilight. I 
saw them working far into the night. "If we could use 
the water power of the Papaloapan to light our farms 
we could work our farms all night," Manuel Lagunas 
told me, and I believe he would have done it. The rising 
hour on the farms is generally 4 o'clock in the morning. 
Sometimes it is earlier. On all but three or four of 
the thirty farms the slaves work every day in the year — 
until they fall. At San Juan del Rio, one of the largest, 
they have a half holiday every Sunday. I happened to 
be at San Juan del Rio on a Sunday afternoon. That 
half holiday! What a grim joke! The slaves spent it 
in jail, locked up to keep them from running away ! 
. And they fall very fast. They are beaten, and that 
helps. They are starved, and that helps. They are 
given no hope, and that helps. They die in anywhere 
from one month to a year, the time of greatest mortality 
being between the sixth and eighth month. Like the 
cotton planters of our South before the war, the tobacco 
planters seem to have their business figured down to a 
fine point. It was a well-established business maxim of 
our cotton planters that the greatest amount of profit 
could be wrung from the body of a negro slave by 
working him to death in seven years and then buying 
another one. The Valle Nacional slave holder has dis- 
covered that it is cheaper to buy a slave for $45 and 
work and starve him to death in seven months, and then 
spend $45 for a fresh slave, than it is to give the first 
slave better food, work him less sorely and stretch out his 
life and his toiling hours over a longer period of time. 



I visited Valle Nacional in the latter part of 1908, 
spending a week in the region and stopping at all the 
larger plantations. I passed three nights at various plan- 
tation houses and four more at one or another of the 
towns. As in Yucatan, I visited the country in the guise 
of a probable purchaser of plantations. 

As in Yucatan, I succeeded in convincing authorities 
and planters that I had several million dollars behind me 
just aching to be invested. Consequently, I put them 
as completely off their guard as it would be possible 
to do. As in Yucatan, I was able to secure my informa- 
tion, not only from what I saw of and heard from the 
slaves, but from the mouths of the masters themselves. 
Indeed, I was more fortunate than I was in Yucatan. 
I chummed with bosses and police so successfully that 
they never once became suspicious, and for months some 
of them were doubtless looking for me to drop in any 
fine day with a few million in my pocket, prepared to 
buy them out at double the value of their property. 

The nearer we approached Valle Nacional the greater 
horror of the place we found among the people. 
None had been there, but all had heard rumors, some 
had seen survivors, and the sight of those walking corpses 
had confirmed the rumors. As we got off the train at 
Cordoba, we saw crossing the platform a procession of 
fourteen men, two in front and two behind with rifles, 
ten with their arms bound behind them with ropes, their 



heads down. Some were ragged, some well dressed, and 
several had small bundles on their shoulders. 

"On their way to the valley !" I whispered. My com- 
panion nodded, and the next moment the procession 
disappeared through a narrow gateway on the opposite 
side of the street, the entrance to a most conveniently 
situated "bull pen" for the accommodation over night 
of the exiles. 

After supper I mingled with the crowds in the lead- 
ing hotels of the town, and was aggressive enough in my 
role of investor to secure letters of introduction from 
a wealthy Spaniard to several slave holders of the valley. 

"You'd better call on the jefe politico at Tuztepec as 
soon as you get there," advised the Spaniard. "He's a 
friend of mine. Just show him my signature and he'll 
pass you along, all right." 

When I arrived at Tuztepec I took the advice of the 
Senor and to my good fortune, for the jefe politico, 
Rodolpho Pardo, not only passed me along, but gave 
me a personal letter to each of his subordinates along 
the road, the presidentes of Chiltepec, Jacatepec and 
Valle Nacional, instructing them to neglect their official 
business, if necessary, but to attend to my wants. Thus 
it was during my first days in the Valley of Death I 
was the guest of the presidente, and on the nights which I 
spent in the town a special police escort was appointed 
to see that I came to no harm. 

In Cordoba, a negro building contractor, an intelligent 
fellow, who had sojourned in Mexico for fifteen years, 
said to me: 

"The days of slavery ain't over yet. No, sir, they 
ain't over. I've been here a long time and I've got a 
little property. I know I'm pretty safe, but sometimes 
I get scared myself — ^yes, sir, I get scared, you bet!" 


Early next morning as I was dressing I glanced out 
of my window and saw a man walking down the middle 
of the street with one end of a riata around his neck 
and a horseman riding behind at the other end of the 

"Where's that man going?" I inquired of the servant. 
"Going to be hanged?" 

"Oh, no, only going to jail," answered the servant. 
"It's the easiest way to take them, you know. In a day 
or two," he added, "that man will be on his way to 
Valle Nacional. Everybody arrested here goes to Valle 
Nacional — everybody except the rich." 

"I wonder if that same gang we saw last night will 
be going down on the train today," my companion, De 
Lara, said, as we made for the depot. 

He did not wonder long, for we had hardly found 
seats when we saw the ten slaves and their rurale guards 
filing into the second-class coach adjoining. Three of 
the prisoners were well dressed and had unusually intel- 
ligent faces; the others were of the ordinary type of 
city or farm laborers. Two of the former were bright 
boys under twenty, one of whom burst into tears as the 
train pulled slowly out of Cordoba toward the dreaded 

Down into the tropics we slid, into the jungle, into 
the dampness and perfume of the lowlands, known as 
the hot country. We flew down a mountain, then skirted 
the rim of a gash-like gorge, looking down upon coffee 
plantations, upon groves of bananas, rubber and sugar 
cane, then into a land where it rains every day except 
in mid- winter. It was not hot — not real hot, like Yuma 
— ^but the passengers perspired with the sky. 

We watched the exiles curiously, and at the first 
opportunity we made advances to the chief of the rurale 


squad. At Tierra Blanca we stopped for dinner and, as 
the meal the rurales purchased for their charges con- 
sisted only of tortillas and chili, we bought a few extras 
for them, then sat and watched them eat. Gradually 
we drew the exiles into conversation, carefully nursing 
the good will of their guards at the same time, and pres- 
ently we had the story of each. 

The prisoners were all from Pachuca, capital of the 
state of Hidalgo, and, unlike the vast majority of Valle 
Nacional slaves, they were being sent over the road 
directly by the jefe politico of that district. The par- 
ticular system of this particular jefe was explained to 
us two days later by Espiridion Sanchez, a corporal of 
rurales, as follows: 

"The jefe poUtico of Pachuca has a contract with 
Candido Fernandez, owner of the tobacco plantation 
'San Cristobal la Vega,' whereby he agrees to deliver 500 
able-bodied laborers a year for fifty pesos each. The 
jefe gets special nominal government rates on the rail- 
roads, his guards are paid for by the government, so 
the four days' trip from Pachuca costs him only three 
pesos and a half per man. This leaves him forty-six 
and one-half pesos. Out of it he must pay something 
to his governor, Pedro L. Rodriguez, and something to 
the jefe politico at Tuztepec. But even then his profits 
are very large. 

"How does he get his men? He picks them up on 
the street and puts them in jail. Sometimes he charges 
them with some crime, real or imaginary, but in either 
case the man is never tried. He is held in jail until 
there are enough others to make up a gang, and then 
all are sent here. Why, men who may be safely sent 
to Valle Nacional are getting so scarce in Pachuca that 
the jefe has even been known to take young boys out of 


school and send them here just for the sake of the fifty 

Of our ten friends from Pachuca, all had been arrested 
and put in jail, but not one had been taken before a 
judge. Two had been charged with owing money that 
they could not pay, one had been arrested when drunk, 
another had been drunk and had discharged a firearm 
into the air, the fifth had shouted too loudly on Inde- 
pendence Day, September 16th, another had attempted 
rape, the seventh had had a mild-mannered quarrel with 
another boy over the sale of a five-cent ring, two had 
been musicians in the army and had left one company 
and joined another without permission, and the tenth 
had been a clerk of rurales and had been sold for pay- 
ing a friendly visit to the previous two while they were 
in jail serving out their sentence for desertion. 

When we smiled our incredulity at the tale of the tenth 
prisoner and asked the chief rurale pointblank if it was 
true, he astonished us with his reply. Nodding his 
grizzled head he said in a low voice : 

"It is true. Tomorrow may be my time. It is always 
the poor that suffer." 

We would have looked upon the stories of these men 
as "fairy tales," but all of them were confirmed by one 
or the other of the guards. The case of the musicians 
interested us most. The older carried the forehead of 
a university professor. He was a cornet player and his 
name was Amado Godaniz. The younger was a boy of 
but eighteen, the boy who cried, a basso player named 
Felipe Gomez. 

"They are sending us to our death — to our death," 
muttered Godaniz. "We will never get out of that hole 
alive." And all along the route, wherever we met him, 
he said the same thing, repeating over and over again: 


"They are sending us to our death — to our death !" And 
always at the words the soft-faced, cringing boy of eight- 
een at his side would cry silently. 

At El Hule, The Gateway to the Mexican Hell, we 
parted from our unfortunate friends for a time. As we 
left the railroad depot to board our launch in the river, 
we saw the ten, strung out in single file, one mounted 
rurale in front and one behind, disappear in the jungle 
toward Tuztepec. Four hours later, as we approached 
the district metropolis in the thickening twilight, we saw 
them again. They had beaten the launch in the journey 
up the river, had crossed in a canoe, and now stood rest- 
ing for a moment on a sandy bank, silhouetted against 
the sky. 

Rodolpho Pardo, the jefe politico, whom we visited 
after supper, proved to be a slender, polished man of 
forty, smooth-shaven, with eyes which searched our 
bodies like steel probes at first. But the thought of fresh 
millions to be invested where he might levy his toll upon 
them sweetened him as we became acquainted, and when 
we shook his cold, moist hand good-bye, we had won all 
that we had asked for. Don Rodolpho even called in the 
chief of police and instructed him to find us good horses 
for our journey. 

Early the following morning found us on the jungle 
trail. During the forenoon we encountered several other 
travelers, and we lost no opportunity to question them. 

"Run away? Yes; they try to — sometimes," said one 
native, a Mexican cattleman. "But too many are against 
them. The only escape is down river. They must cross 
many times and they must pass Jacatepec, Chiltepec, 
Tuzetpec and El Hule. And they must hide from 
every one on the road, for a reward of ten pesos is paid 
for every runaway captured. We don't love the system, 


but ten pesos is a lot of money, and no one would let 
it go by. Besides, if one doesn't get it another will, and 
even though the runaway should get out of the valley, 
when he reaches Cordoba he finds the enganchador 
Tresgallo, waiting there to send him back/* 

"One time," another native told us, "I saw a man 
leaning against a tree beside the trail. As I rode up 
I spoke to him, but he did not move. His arm was 
doubled against the tree trunk and his eyes seemed to be 
studying the ground. I touched his shoulder and found 
that he was stiff — dead. He had been turned out to die 
and had walked so far. How do I know he was not a 
runaway ? Ah, Senor, I knew. You would have known, 
too, had you seen his swollen feet and the bones of his 
face — almost bare. No man who looks like that could 
run away!" 

Just at nightfall we rode into Jacatepec, and there 
we found the slave gang ahead of us. They had started 
first and had kept ahead, walking the twenty-four miles 
of muddy trail, though some of them were soft from 
jail confinement. They were sprawled out on a patch 
of green beside the detention house. 

The white linen collar of Amado Godaniz was gone 
now. The pair of fine shoes, nearly new, which he wore 
on the train, were on the ground beside him, heavy with 
mud and water. His bare feet were small, as white as 
a woman's and as tender, and both showed bruises and 
scratches. Since that evening at Jacatepec I have often 
thought of Amado Godaniz and have wondered — ^with a 
shiver — how those tender white feet fared among the 
tropical flies of Valle Nacional. "They are sending us 
to our death — to our death!" The news that Amado 
Godaniz were alive today would surprise me. That night 
he seemed to realize that he would never need those fine 


shoes again, and before I went to bed I heard him trying 
to sell them to a passer-by for twenty-five cents. 

Wherever we stopped we induced people, by careless 
questions, to talk about the valley. I wanted to make no 
mistake. I wanted to hear the opinion of everybody. I 
did not know what might be denied us farther on. And 
always the story was the same — slavery and men and 
women beaten to death. 

We arose at five the next morning and missed our 
breakfast in order to follow the slave gang over the 
road to Valle Nacional. At first the chief of the two 
riirales, a clean, handsome young Mexican, looked 
askance at our presence, but before we were half way 
there he was talking pleasantly. He was a Tuztepec rurale 
and was making his living out of the system, yet he 
was against it. 

"It*s the Spanish who beat our people to death," He 
said bitterly. "All the tobacco planters are Spanish, all 
but one or two." 

The rurale chief gave us the names of two Spaniards, 
partners, Juan Pereda and Juan Robles, who had become 
rich on Valle Nacional tobacco and had sold out and 
gone back to spend the rest of their days in Spain. After 
they were gone, said he, the new owner, in looking over 
the place, ran upon a swamp in which he found hundreds 
of human skeletons. The toilers whom Pereda and 
Robles had starved and beaten to death they had been 
too miserly to bury. 

Nobody ever thought of having a planter arrested for 
murdering his slaves, the rurale told us. To this rule he 
mentioned two exceptions; one, the case of a foreman 
who had shot three slaves ; the other, a case in which an 
American figured and in which the American ambassador 
took action. In the first case the planter had disapproved 


the killing because he needed the slaves, so he himself 
had secured the arrest of the foreman. As to the other 

"In past years they used to pick up a derelict Ameri- 
can once in awhile and ship him down here," said my 
informant, "but the trouble this particular one kicked up 
has resulted in Americans being barred altogether. This 
American was sent to 'San Cristobal,' the farm of Can- 
dido Fernandez. At this plantation it was the custom to 
kill a steer every two weeks to provide meat for the 
family and the foremen; the only meat the slaves ever 
got was the head and entrails. One Sunday, while help- 
ing butcher a steer, the hunger of the American slave 
got the better of him, and he seized some of the entrails 
and ate them raw. The next day he died and a few 
weeks later an escaped slave called on the American 
ambassador in Mexico City, gave him the name and home 
address of the American, and told him the man had been 
beaten to death. The ambassador secured the arrest of 
the planter Fernandez and it cost him a lot of money to 
get out of jail." 

Our trip was a very beautiful one, if very rough. At 
one point we climbed along the precipitous side of a 
magnificent mountain, allowing our horses to pick their 
way over the rocks behind us. At another we waited 
while the slaves took off their clothing, piled them in 
bundles on their heads and waded across a creek; then 
we followed on our horses. At many points I yearned 
mightily for a camera, yet I knew if I had it that it 
would get me into trouble. 

Picture merely that procession as it wound in single 
file around the side of a hill, the tropical green above 
broken now and then by a ridge of gigantic grey rocks, 
below a level meadow and a little farther on the curving, 


feminine lines of that lovely river, the Papaloapan. Pic- 
ture those ten slaves, six with the regulation high straw 
hat of the plebeian Mexican, four with felts, all bare- 
footed now except the boy musician, who is sure to throw 
away his shoes before the end of the journey, half of 
them bare-handed, imagining that the masters will fur- 
nish them blankets or extra clothing, the other half with 
small bundles of bright-colored blankets on their backs; 
finally, the mounted and uniformed rurales, one in front 
and one behind; and the American travelers at the 
extreme rear. 

Soon we began to see gangs of men, from twenty to 
one hundred, at work in the fields preparing the ground 
for the tobacco planting. The men were the color of the 
ground, and it struck me as strange that they moved 
incessantly while the ground was still. Here and there 
among the moving shapes stood others — ^these seemed 
different; they really looked like men — with long, lithe 
canes in their hands and sometimes swords and pistols 
in their belts. We knew then that we had reached Valle 

The first farm at which we stopped was "San Juan del 
Rio.'' Crouching beside the porch of the main building 
was a sick slave. One foot was swollen to twice its nat- 
ural size and a dirty bandage was wrapped clumsily about 
it. "What's the matter with your foot?" I asked. 
"Blood poisoning from insect bites," replied the slave. 
"He'll have maggots in another day or two," a boss told 
us with a grin. 

As we rode away we caught our first glimpse of a 
Valle Nacional slave-house, a mere jail with barred win- 
dows, a group of women bending over metates, and a 
guard at the door with a key. 

I have said that our rurale corporal was opposed to the 


system, yet how perfectly he was a part of it he soon 
showed. Rounding a bluff suddenly we caught sight of 
a man crouching half hidden behind a tree. Our rurale 
called him and he came, trembling, and trying to hide the 
green oranges that he had been eating. The ensuing con- 
versation went something like this : 

Rurale — Where are you going? 

Man — To Oaxaca. 

Rurale — Where are you from? 

Man — From the port of Manzanillo. 

Rurale — You've come a hundred miles out of your 
way. Nobody ever comes this way who doesn't have 
business here. What farm did you run away from, any- 

Man — I didn't run away. 

Rurale — Well, you fall in here. 

So we took the man along. Later it was ascertained 
that he had run away from "San Juan del Rio." The 
rurale got the ten pesos reward. 

At the plantation "San Cristobal" we left the slave 
gang behind, first having the temerity to shake the hands 
of the two musicians, whom we never saw again. Alone 
on the road we found that the attitude of those we met 
was widely different from what it had been when we 
were traveling in the company of the rurales, the agents 
of the state. The Spanish horsemen whom we encoun- 
tered did not deign to speak to us, they stared at us 
suspiciously through half closed eyes and one or two 
even spoke offensively of us in our hearing. Had it not 
been for the letter to the presidente in my pocket it would 
doubtless have been a difficult matter to secuie admission 
to the tobacco plantations of Valle Nacional. 

Everywhere we saw the same thing — gangs of emaci- 
ated men and boys at work clearing the ground with 


machetes or ploughing the broad fields with oxen. And 
everywhere we saw guards, armed with long, lithe canes, 
with swords and pistols. Just before we crossed the 
river for the last time to ride into the town of Valle ||'J 
Nacional we spoke to an old man with a stump of a p§y 


wrist who was working alone near the fence. 

"How did you lose your hand ?" I asked. 

"A cabo (foreman) cut it off with a sword," was the R.j^ 
reply. j^--; 

Manuel Lagunas, presidente of Valle Nacional, proved fev; 
to be a very amiable fellow, and I almost liked him — 
until I saw his slaves. His secretary, Miguel Vidal, was 
even more amiable, and we four sat for two hours over 
our late dinner, thoroughly enjoying ourselves — and talk- 
ing about the country. During the entire meal a little 
half-negro boy of perhaps eight years stood silent behind 
the door, emerging only when his master, needing to be 
waited upon, called "Negro!" 

"I bought him cheap," said Vidal. "He cost me only 
twenty-five pesos" 

Because of its great beauty Valle Nacional was orig- 
inally called "Royal Valley" by the Spaniards, but after 
the Independence of Mexico it was rechristened Valle 
Nacional. Thirty-five years ago the land belonged to the 
Chinanteco Indians, a peaceable tribe among whom it 
was divided by President Juarez. When Diaz came into 
power he failed to make provision for protecting the 
Chinantecos against scheming Spaniards, so in a few 
years the Indians had drunk a few bottles of mescal and 
the Spaniards had gobbled up every foot of their land. 
The Valle Nacional Indians now secure their food from 
rented patches high up on the mountain sides which are 
unfit for tobacco cultivation. 

Though the planters raise corn and beans, and some- 


times bananas or other tropical fruits, tobacco is the only 
considerable product of the valley. The plantations are 
usually large, there being only about thirty in the entire 
district. Of this number twelve are owned by Balsa Her- 
manos (Brothers), who operate a large cigar factory in 
Veracruz and another in the city of Oaxaca. 

After dinner we went for a stroll about town and for 
a bodyguard the presidente assigned us a policeman, Juan 
Hernandez. We proceeded to question the policeman. 

"All the slaves are kept until they die — all," said 
Hernandez. "And when they are dead the bosses do not 
always take the trouble to bury them. They throw them 
in the swamps where the alligators eat them. On the 
plantation 'Hondura de Nanche' so many are given to the 
alligators that an expression has arisen among the slaves : 
Throw me to The Hungry!' There is a terrible fear 
among those slaves that they will be thrown to 'The 
Hungry' before they are dead and while they are yet con- 
scious, as this has been done !" 

Slaves who are worn out and good for nothing more, 
declared the policeman, and yet who are strong enough 
to cry out against being thrown to "The Hungry," are 
turned out on the road without a cent, and in their rags 
many of them crawl to the town to die. The Indians give 
them some food and on the edge of the town there is an 
old house in which the miserable creatures are permitted 
to pass their last hours. This place is known as "The 
House of Pity." We visited it with the policeman and 
found an old woman lying on her face on the bare floor. 
She did not move when we came in, nor when we spoke 
to each other and finally to her, and for some time we 
were not sure that she was alive. At last she groaned 
feebly. It can be imagined how we felt, but we could do 
nothing, so we tip-toed to the door and hurried away. 


"You will find this a healthy country," the municipal 
secretary told us a little later in the evening. "Don't 
you notice how fat we all are ? The laborers of the plan- 
tations ? Ah, yes, they die — die of malaria and consump- 
tion — but it is only because they are under-fed. Tor- 
tillas and beans — sour beans at that, usually, is all they 
get, and besides they are beaten too much. Yes, they die, 
but nobody else here ever has any sickness." 

Notwithstanding the accounts of Juan Hernandez, the 
policeman, the secretary assured us that most of the dead 
slaves were buried. The burying is done in the town and 
it costs the bosses one and one-half pesos for each burial. 
By charity the town puts a little bamboo cross over each 
grave. We strolled out in the moonlight and took a look 
at the graveyard. And we gasped at the acres and acres 
of crosses! Yes, the planters bury their dead. One 
would guess by those crosses that Valle Nacional were 
not a village of one thousand souls, but a city of one 
hundred thousand! 

On our way to our beds in the house of the Presidente 
we hesitated at the sound of a weak voice hailing us. A 
fit of heart-breaking coughing followed and then we saw 
a human skeleton squatting beside the path. He wanted 
a penny. We gave him several, then questioned him and 
learned that he was one who had come to die in "The 
House of Pity." It "was cruel to make him talk, but we 
did it, and in his ghastly whispering voice he managed to 
piece out his story between paroxysms of coughing. 

His name was Angelo Echavarria, he was twenty 
years old and a native of Tampico. Six months previ- 
ously he had been offered wages on a farm at two pesos 
2L day, and had accepted, but only to be sold as a slave 
to Andres M. Rodriguez, proprietor of the plantation 
"Santa Fe." At the end of three months he began to 


break down under the inhuman treatment he received 
and at four months a foreman named Augustin broke a 
sword over his back. When he regained consciousness 
after the beating he had coughed up a part of a lung. 
After that he was beaten more frequently because he 
was unable to work as well, and several times he fell in 
a faint in the field. At last he was set free, but when 
he asked for the wages that he thought were his, he was 
told that he was $1.50 in debt to the ranch! He came 
to the town and complained to the Presidente, but was 
given no satisfaction. Now too weak to start to walk 
home, he was coughing his life away and begging for 
subsistence at the same time. In all my life I have never 
seen another living creature so emaciated as Angelo 
Echavarria, yet only three days previously he had been 
working all day in the hot sun ! 

We visited the plantation "Santa Fe" the following 
day, as well as a half a dozen others. We found the 
system of housing, feeding, working and guarding the 
slaves alike on all. 

The main dormitory at "Santa Fe" consisted of one 
windowless, dirt-floor room, built of upright poles set in 
the ground an inch apart and held firmly together by 
strands of barbed wire fencing. It was as impregnable 
as an American jail. The beds consisted of a single grass 
mat each laid crosswise on a wooden bench. There were 
four benches, two on each side, one above another, run- 
ning lengthwise of the room. The beds were laid so 
close together that they touched. The dimensions of the 
room were 75 by 18 feet and in these cramped quarters 
150 men, women and children slept every night. The 
Valle Nacional tobacco planters have not the decency of 
slave-holders of fifty years ago, for on not one of the 
plantations did I find a separate dormitory for the women. 


And I was repeatedly told that the women who enter- 
that foul hole all become common to the men, not because 
they wish to become so, but because the overseers do not 
protect them from the unwelcome advances of the men ! 

On the "Santa Fe" ranch the mandadoVy or superin- 
tendent, sleeps in a room at one end of the slave dormi- 
tory and the cahos, or overseers, sleep in a room at the 
other end. The single door is padlocked, but a watch- 
man paces all night up and down the passageway between 
the rows of shelves. Every half hour he strikes a clam- 
orous gong. In answer to a question Senor Rodriguez 
assured me that the gong did not disturb the sleeping 
slaves, but even if it had that the rule was necessary to 
prevent the watchman from going to sleep and permitting 
a jail-break. 

Observing the field gangs at close range, I was aston- 
ished to see so many children among the laborers. At 
least half were under twenty and at least one-fourth 
under fourteen. 

"The boys are just as good in the planting as the men," 
remarked the Presidente, who escorted us about. "They 
last longer, too, and they cost only half as much. Yes, 
all the planters prefer boys to men." 

During my ride through fields and along the roads 
that day I often wondered why some of those blood- 
less, toiling creatures did not cry out to us and say: 
"Help us ! For God's sake help us ! We are being mur- 
dered !" Then I remembered that all men who pass this 
way are like their own bosses, and in answer to a cry 
they could expect nothing better than a mocking laugh, 
and perhaps a blow besides. 

Our second night in Valle Nacional we spent on the 
Presidente's plantation. As we approached the place we 
lagged behind the Presidente to observe a gang of 150 


men and boys planting tobacco on the adjoining farm, 
"El Mirador." There were half a dozen overseers among 
them and as we came near we saw them jumping here 
and there among the slaves, yelling, cursing and striking 
this way and that with their long, lithe canes. Whack! 
Whack ! went the sticks on back, shoulders, legs and even 
heads. The slaves weren't being beaten. They were only 
being urged a little, possibly for our benefit. 

We stopped, and the head foreman, a big black Span- 
iard, stepped over to the fence and greeted us. 

"Do they ever fight back?" he repeated, at my ques- 
tion. "Not if they're wise. They can get all the fight 
they want from me. The men that fight me don't come 
to work next day. Yes, they need the stick. Better to 
kill a lazy man than to feed him. Run away? Some- 
times the new ones try it, but we soon tame it out of 
them. And when we get 'em tamed we keep 'em here. 
There never was one of these dogs who got out of here 
and didn't go telling lies about us." 

Should I live a thousand years I would never forget 
the faces of dull despair I saw everywhere ; and I would 
never forget the first night I spent on a Valle Nacional 
slave farm, the farm of the Presidente. The place was 
well named, "La Sepultura," though its name was given 
by the Indians long before it became the sepulchre of 
Mexican slaves. 

"La Sepultura'* is one of the smallest farms in the 
valley. The dormitory is only 40 by 15 feet and it accom- 
modates 70 men and women nightly. Inside there are no 
benches — nothing but the bare ground and a thin grass 
mat for each sleeper. In it we found an old woman lying 
sick and shivering alone. Later that night we saw it 
crammed full of the miserables shivering with the cold, 
for the wind was blowing a hurricane and the rain was 


coming down in torrents. In a few hours the tempera- 
ture must have dropped forty degrees. 

One-third of the laborers here were women, one of 
them a girl of twelve. That night the buildings rocked 
so fearfully that the horses were taken out of the barn. 
But, though a building had blown down a few weeks 
previously, the slaves were not taken out of their jail. 
Their jail was built just off the dining-room of the 
dwelling and that night my companion and I slept in the 
dining-room. I heard the jail door open and shut for a 
late worker to enter and then I heard the voice of the 
twelve-year-old girl pleading in terror: "Please don't 
lock the door tonight — only tonight ! Please leave it so 
we can be saved if the house falls !" The answer that I 
heard was only a brutal laugh. 

When I went to bed that night at 9:30 a gang of 
slaves was still working about the barn. When I 
awoke at four the slaves were receiving their beans and 
tortillas in the slave kitchen. When I went to bed two of 
the Presidente's kitchen drudges were hard at work. 
Through the chinks in the poles which divided the two 
rooms I watched them, for I could not sleep. At eleven 
o'clock by my watch one disappeared. It was 12:05 
before the other was gone, but in less than four hours 
more I saw her again, working, working, working, 
working ! 

Yet perhaps she fared better than did the grinders of 
corn and the drawers of water, for when, with the son 
of the Presidente, I visited the slave kitchen at five and 
remarked on the exhausted faces of the women there, 
he informed me that their rising hour was two o'clock 
and that they never had time to rest during the day ! 

Oh, it was awful ! This boy of sixteen, manager of the 
farm in his father's absence, told me with much gusto of 


how fiercely the women sometimes fought against the 
assaults of the men and how he had at times enjoyed 
peering through a crack and watching those tragic 
encounters of the night ! All night we were disturbed — 
mostly by the hacking, tearing coughs that came to us 
through the chinks, sometimes by heart-breaking sobs. 

De Lara and I did not speak about these things until 
the morning, when I remarked upon his haggard face. 

"I heard the sobs and the coughs and the groans," said 
De Lara. "I heard the women cry, and I cried, too — 
three times I cried. I do not know how I can ever laugh 
and be happy again !" 

While we waited for breakfast the Presidente told us 
many things about the slavery and showed us a number 
of knives and files which had been taken from the 
slaves at various times. Like penitentiary convicts, the 
slaves had somehow got possession of the tools in the 
hope of cutting a way out of their prison at night and 
escaping the sentries. 

The Presidente told us frankly that the authorities of 
Mexico City, of Veracruz, of Oaxaca, of Pachuca and of 
Jalapa regularly engage in the slave traffic, usually in 
combination with one or more "labor agents." He espe- 
cially named the mayor of a certain well known seaport, 
who was mentioned in the American newspapers as an 
honored guest of President Roosevelt in 1908 and a 
prominent visitor to the Republican convention at Chi- 
cago. This mayor, said our Presidente, regularly 
employed his city detective force as a dragnet for slaves. 
He arrested all sorts of people on all sorts of pretexts 
merely for the sake of the forty-five pesos apiece that 
they would bring from the tobacco planters. 

Our conversation that morning was interrupted by a 
Spanish foreman who rode up and had a talk with the 


Presidente, They spoke in low tones, but we caught 
most of what they said. The foreman had killed a woman 
the previous day and had come to make his peace about 
it. After a consultation of ten minutes the Presidente 
shook the hand of his visitor and we heard him tell the 
murderer to go home and attend to his business and 
think no more about the matter. 

It was Sunday and we spent the entire day in the 
company of Antonio Pla, probably the most remarkable 
human monster in Valle Nacional. Pla is general man- 
ager for Balsa Hermanos in Valle Nacional and as such 
he oversees the business of twelve large plantations. He 
resides on the ranch ''Hondura de Nanche," the one of 
special alligator fame, where the term "Throw me to The 
Hungry" originated. Pla calls his slaves ''Los Tigres" 
(the tigers) and he took the greatest of pleasure in 
showing us the "dens of the tigers," as well as in explain- 
ing his entire system of purchase, punishment and burial. 

Pla estimated that the annual movement of slaves to 
Valle Nacional is 15,000 and he assured me that if the 
planters killed every last one of them the authorities 
would not interfere. 

"Why should they?" he asked. "Don't we support 

Pla, like many of the other planters, raised tobacco in 
Cuba before he came to Valle Nacional, and he declared 
that on account of the slave system in the latter place the 
same quality of tobacco was raised in Valle Nacional 
for half the price that it cost to raise it in Cuba. It was 
not practical, said he, to keep the slaves more than seven 
or eight months, as they became "all dried out." He 
explained the various methods of whipping, the informal 
slugging in the field with a cane of bejuco wood, and the 
lining-up of the gangs in the morning and the admin- 


istration of "a, few stripes to the lazy ones as medicine 
for the day.'* 

' "But after awhile," declared Pla, "even the cane 
doesn't do any good. There comes a time when they 
just can't work any longer." 

Pla told us that an agent of the government had three 
months before tried to sell him 500 Yaquis for twenty 
thousand pesos, but he had rejected the offer, as, though 
the Yaquis last like iron, they will persist in taking long 
chances in a break for liberty. 

"I bought a bunch of Yaquis several years ago,'* he 
said, "but most of them got away after a few months. 
No, Yucatan is the only place for the Yaquis." 

We found two Yaquis, however, on the farm, "Los 
Mangos." They said they had been there for two years 
and were the only ones left out of an original lot of 
two hundred. One had been out of commission for a 
few days, one of his feet being half gone— eaten off by 

"I expect I'll have to kill that tiger," said Pla, in tfie 
man's hearing. "He'll never be worth anything to mc 
any more." 

The second Yaqui we found in the field working witK a 
gang. I stepped up to him and felt of his arms. They 
were still muscular. He was really a magnificent speci- 
men and reminded me of the story of Ben Hur. As 1 
inspected him he stood erect, staring straight ahead bul 
trembling slightly in every limb. The mere attitude ol 
that Yaqui was to me the most conclusive evidence of the 
beastliness of the system under which he was enslaved. 

At "Los Mangos" a foreman let us inspect his long, 
lithe cane, the beating cane, the cane of bejuco wood. II 
bent like a rawhide buggy whip, but it would not break. 

"The bejuco tree grows on the mountain side," ex* 


plained the foreman. "See! The wood is Hke leather. 
With this cane I can beat twenty men to death and yet 
it will be good for twenty morel" 

In the slave kitchen of the same ranch we found two 
girls of seventeen, both with refined and really beautiful 
faces, grinding corn. Though their boss, Pla, stood 
menacingly by, each dared to tell her story briefly. One, 
from Leon, State of Guanajuato, declared that the "labor 
agent" had promised her fifty pesos per month and a 
good home as cook in a small family, and when she 
discovered that all was not right it was too late; the 
rurales compelled her to come along. The other girl was 
from San Luis Potosi. She had been promised a good 
home and forty pesos a month for taking care of two 
small children! 

Wherever we went we found the houses full of fine 
furniture made by the slaves. 

"Yes," explained Antonio Pla, "some of the best arti- 
sans in the country come right here — in one way or 
another. We get carpenters and cabinet-makers and 
upholsterers and everything. Why, on my ranches I've 
had teachers and actresses and artists and one time I 
even had an ex-priest. I had one of the most beautiful 
actresses in the country one time, right here on *Hon- 
dura de Nanche.* She was noted, too. How did she 
get here? Simple enough. A son of a millionaire in 
Mexico City wanted to marry her and, to get her out 
of the way, the millionaire paid the authorities a good 
price to kidnap her and give her to a labor agent. Yes, 
sir, that woman was a beauty !" 

"And what became of her?" I asked. 

"Oh," was the evasive reply. "That was two years 

Truly, two years is a long time in Valle Nacional, 


longer, than a life-time, usually. The story of the 
actress reminded me of a story told me by a newly- 
married runaway Mexican couple in Los Angeles just 
before I started on my trip. The young husband was 
a member of the middle class of Mexico City and his 
wife was the daughter of a millionaire. Because the boy 
was considered to be "below" the girl, the girl's father 
went to extremes in his efforts to prevent the marriage. 

"George went through many dangers for me," is the 
way the young bride told the story. "One time my 
father tried to shoot him and another time my father 
offered the authorities five thousand pesos to kidnap him 
and send him to Valle Nacional. But I warned George 
and he was able to save himself !" 

Pla also told of eleven girls who had come to him in a 
single shipment from Oaxaca. 

"They were at a public dance," said he. "Some men 
got into a fight and the police jailed everybody in the 
hall. Those girls didn't have anything to do with the 
trouble, but the jefe politico needed the money and so 
he sent them all here." 

"Well," I asked, "what sort of women were they ? Pub- 
lic women?" 

Pla shot me a glance full of meaning. 

"No, Senor!" he said, with contempt in his voice, "do 
you suppose that I need to have that kind of women sent 
in here to mef" 

The close attendance of owners and superintendents 
as well as the ubiquity of overseers, prevented us from 
obtaining many long interviews with the slaves. One of 
the most notable of our slave talks occurred the day 
following our visit to the Balsa Hermanos farm. Return- 
ing from a long day's visit to numerous plantations, we 
hailed a ploughman working near the road on "Hondura 


de Nanche." The nearest overseer happened to be half 
way across the field and the slave, at our inquiry, will- 
ingly pointed out the slough of the alligators and con- 
firmed the story of dying men being thrown to "The 

*T have been here for six years and I believe I hold 
the record for the valley," he told us. "Other strong 
men come and turn to skeletons in a single season, but it 
seems that I cannot die. They come and fall, and come 
and fall, yet I stay on and live. But you ought to have 
seen me when I came ! I was a man then — a man ! I had 
shoulders and arms — I was a giant then. But now — " 

Tears gathered in the fellow's eyes and rolled down 
his cheeks, but he went on: 

"I was a carpenter and a good one — six years ago. 
I lived with my brother and sister in Mexico City. My 
brother was a student — he was only in his teens — my 
sister tended the little house that I paid for out of my 
wages. We were not poor — no. We were happy. Then 
work in my trade fell slack and one evening I met a 
friend who told me of employment to be had in the 
State of Veracruz at three pesos a day — a long job. I 
jumped at the chance and we came together, came here — 
here! I told my brother and sister that I would send 
them money regularly, and when I learned that I could 
send them nothing and wrote to let them know, they 
would not let me send the letter! For months I kept 
that letter, watching, waiting, trying to get an oppor- 
tunity to speak to the carrier as he rode along the high- 
way. At last I saw him, but when I handed him the 
letter, he only laughed in my face and handed it back. 
Nobody is allowed to send a letter out of here. 

"Escape?" went on the ploughman. "Yes, I tried it 
many times. Once, only eight months ago, I got as far as 


Tuztepec. I was writing a letter. I wanted to get word 
to my people, but they caught me before the letter was 
finished. They don't know where I am. They must 
think I am dead. My brother must have had to leave 
school. My—" 

"Better stop/' I said. "A cabo is coming!'* 

"No, not yet," he answered. "Quick ! I will give you 
their address. Tell them that I never read the contract. 
Tell them that I never saw it until I came here. My 
brother's name is Juan " 

"Look out!" I cried, but too late. "Whack!" The 
long cane struck the ploughman across the back. He 
winced, started to open his mouth again, but at a second 
whack he changed his mind and turned sullenly to his 

The rains of our last two days in Valle Nacional made 
the trail to Tuztepec impassable, so we left our horses and 
traveled down river in a balsa, a raft of logs on which was 
erected a tiny shelter house roofed with banana leaves. 
Two Indians, one at each end, poled and paddled the 
strange craft down the rushing stream, and from them 
we learned that the Indians themselves have had their 
day as slaves in Valle Nacional. The Spaniards tried to 
enslave them, but they fought to the death. They em- 
ployed their tribal solidarity and fought in droves like 
wolves and in that way they regained and kept their 
freedom. Such a common understanding and such mass 
movements cannot, of course, be developed by the hetero- 
geneous elements that today are brought together on the 
slave plantations. 

At Tuztepec on our way we met Senor P , poli- 
tician, "labor agent," and relative of Felix Diaz, nephew 
of President Diaz and Chief of Police of Mexico City. 


Senor P , who dressed like a prince, made himself 

agreeable and answered our questions freely because he 
hoped to secure the contract for furnishing slaves for my 

"You can't help but make money in Valle Nacional," 
said he. "They all do. Why, after every harvest there's 
an exodus of planters to Mexico City, where some of 
them stay for months, spending their money in the most 
riotous living!" 

Senor P was kind enough to tell us what became 

of the fifty pesos he received for each of his slaves. Five 
pesos, he said went to Rodolpho Pardo, jefe politico of 
Tuztepec, ten to Felix Diaz for every slave taken out of 
Mexico City, and ten to the mayor of the city or jefe 
politico of the district from whence came the other 

"The fact that I am a brother-in-law of Felix Diaz," 

said Senor P , "as well as a personal friend of the 

governors of the states of Oaxaca and Veracruz, and of 
the mayors of the cities of the same name, puts me in a 
position to supply your wants better than anyone else. I 
am prepared to furnish you any number of laborers up to 
forty thousand a year, men, women and children, and 
my price is fifty pesos each. Children workers last better 
than adults and I advise you to use them in preference to 
others. / can furnish you 1,000 children a month under 
fourteen years of age, and I am prepared to secure their 
legal adoption as sons and daughters of the company, so 
that they can be legally kept until they reach the age of 
twenty-two !** 

"But how," I gasped, "is my company going to adopt 
12,000 children a year as sons and daughters? Do you 
mean to tell me that the government would permit such a 


"Leave that to me," replied Senor P , signifi- 
cantly. "I'm doing it every day. You don't pay your 
fifty pesos until you get the children and the adoption 
papers too !" 



A whole book, and a large one, could very profitably be 
written upon the slavery of Mexico. But important as 
the subject is, it is not important enough to fill a greater 
fraction of space in this work than I have allotted to it. 
Most necessary is it that I dig beneath the surface and 
reveal the hideous causes which have made and are per- 
petuating that barbarous institution. 

I trust that my exposition of the previous chapters has 
been lucid enough to leave no question as to the com- 
plete partnership of the government in the slavery. 

In some quarters this slavery has been admitted, but 
the guilt of the government has been denied. But it is 
absurd to suppose that the government could be kept in 
ignorance of a situation in which one-third the entire 
population of a great state are held as chattels. More- 
over, it is well known that hundreds of state and national 
officials are constantly engaged in rounding up, trans- 
porting, selling, guarding and hunting slaves. As I pre- 
viously pointed out, every gang of enganchados leaving 
Mexico City or any other city for Valle Nacional or any 
other slave district are guarded by government rurales, or 
rural guards, in uniform. These rurales do not act on 
their own initiative ; they are as completely under orders 
as are the soldiers of the regular army. Without the 
coercion of their guns and their authority the enganchados 
would refuse to travel a mile of the journey. A moment's 
thought is sufficient to convince any unprejudiced mind 



that without the partnership of the government the whole 
system of slavery would be an impossibility. 

Slavery similar to that of Yucatan and Valle Nacional 
is to be found in nearly every state of Mexico, but 
especially in the coast states south of the great plateau. 
The labor on the henequen plantations of Campeche, in 
the lumber and fruit industries of Chiapas and Tabasco, 
on the rubber, coffee, sugar-cane, tobacco and fruit plan- 
tations of Veracruz, Oaxaca and Morelos, is all done by 
slaves. In at least ten of the thirty-two states and terri- 
tories of Mexico the proportion of labor is over- 
whelmingly of slaves. 

While the minor conditions vary somewhat in different 
places, the general system is everywhere the same — 
service against the will of the laborer, no pay, semi- 
starvation, and the whip. Into this arrangement of things 
are impressed not only the natives of the various slave 
states, but others — 100,000 others every year, to speak in 
round numbers — who, either enticed by the false promises 
of labor agents, kidnapped by labor agents or shipped by 
political authorities in partnership with labor agents, 
leave their homes in other parts of the country to jour- 
ney to their death in the hot lands. 

Debt and contract slavery is the prevailing system of 
production all over the south of Mexico. Probably 
three-quarters of a million souls may properly be classed 
as human chattels. In all the rest of Mexico a system 
of peonage, differing from slavery principally in degree, 
and similar in many respects to the serfdom of Europe in 
the Middle Ages, prevails in the rural districts. Under 
this system the laborer is compelled to give service to 
the farmer, or hacendado, to accept what he wishes to 
pay, and even to receive such beatings as he cares to 
deliver. Debt, real or imaginary, is the nexus that binds 


the peon to his master. Debts are handed from father to 
son and on down through the generations. Though the 
constitution does not recognize the right of the creditor to 
take and hold the body of the debtor, the rural authorities 
everywhere recognize such a right and the result is that 
probably 5,000,000 people, or one-third the entire popula- 
tion, are today living in a state of helpless peonage. 

Farm peons are often credited with receiving wages, 
which nominally range from twelve and one-half cents a 
day to twenty-five cents a day, American money — seldom 
higher. Often they never receive a cent of this, but are 
paid only in credit checks at the hacienda store, at which 
they are compelled to trade in spite of the exorbitant 
prices. As a result their food consists solely of corn 
and beans, they live in hovels often made of no more 
substantial material than corn-stalks, and they wear their 
pitiful clothing, not merely until the garments are all rags 
and patches and ready to drop off, but until they actually 
do attain the vanishing act. 

Probably not fewer than eighty per cent of all the farm 
and plantation laborers in Mexico are either slaves or 
are bound to the land as peons. The other twenty per cent 
are denominated as free laborers and live a precarious 
existence trying to dodge the net of those who would drag 
them down. I remember particularly a family of such 
whom I met in the State of Chihuahua. They were 
typical, though my memory of them is most vivid because 
I saw them on the first night I ever spent in Mexico. It 
was in a second-class car on the Mexican Central, trav- 
eling south. 

They were six, that family, and of three generations. 
From the callow, raven-haired boy to the white-chinned 
grandfather, all six seemed to have the last ray of 
mirth ground out of their systems. We were a lively 


crowd sitting there near them — four were happy Mexi- 
cans returning home for a vacation after a season at 
wage labor in the United States. We sang a little and 
we made some music on a violin and a harmonica. But 
not one of that family of six behind us ever smiled or 
showed the slightest interest. They reminded me of a 
herd of cattle standing in a blizzard, their heads between 
their front legs, their backs to the storm. 

The face of the old patriarch told a story of burdens 
and of a patient, ox-like bearing of them such as no 
words could possibly suggest. He had a ragged, griz- 
zled beard and moustache, but his head was still covered 
with dark brown hair. He was probably seventy, but 
was evidently still an active worker. His clothing con- 
sisted of American jumper and overalls of ordinary 
denim washed and patched and washed and patched — 
a one-dollar suit patched until it was nothing but 
patches ! 

Beside the patriarch sat the old lady, his wife, with 
head bowed and a facial expression so like that of her 
husband that it might have been a copy by a great painter. 
Yes, the expression differed in one detail. The old 
woman's upper lip was compressed tight against her 
teeth, giving her an effect of perpetually biting her lip 
to keep back the tears. Perhaps her original stock of 
courage had not been equal to that of the man and it 
had been necessary to fortify it by an everlasting com- 
pression of the mouth. 

Then there was a young couple half the age of the two. 
The man sat with head nodding and granulated lids 
blinking slowly, now and then turning his eyes to stare 
with far distant interest upon the merrymakers around 
him. His wife, a flat-breasted, drooping woman, sat 


always in one position with her head bent forward and 
her right hand fingering her face about the bridge of 
the nose. 

Finally, there were two boys, one of eighteen, second 
son of the old man, and one of sixteen, son of the 
second couple. In all that night's journey the only smile 
I saw from any of the six was a smile of the youngest 
boy. A passing news-agent offered the boy a book for 
seventy-five centavos. With slightly widening eyes of 
momentary interest the boy looked upon the gaily deco- 
rated paper cover, then turned toward his uncle and 
smiled a half startled smile. To think that anyone 
might imagine that he could afford to purchase one of 
those magical things, a book! 

''We are from Chihuahua," the old man told us, when 
we had gained his confidence. **We work in the fields — 
all of us. All our lives we have been farm laborers in 
the corn and the beans and the melons of Chihuahua. 
But now we are running away from it. If the bosses 
would pay us the money they agree to pay, we could 
get along, but they never pay all — never. This time 
the boss paid us only two-thirds the agreed price, yet 
I am very thankful for that much, for he might have 
given us only one-third, as others have done in the past. 
What can I do? Nothing. I cannot hire a lawyer, for 
the lawyer would steal the other two-thirds, and the 
boss would put me in jail besides. Many times I and 
my sons have gone to jail for asking the boss to pay 
us the full amount of our agreement. My sons become 
angry more and more and sometimes I fear one may 
strike the boss or kill him. That would be the end 
of us. 

"No, the best thing to do, I decided at last, was to 


get away. So we put our wages together and used our 
last dollar to pay for tickets to Torreon, where we hope 
to find work in the cotton fields. I hear we can get one 
peso a day in busy times. Is it so? Or will it be the 
same story over again there ? Perhaps it will. But what 
else can I do but try ? Work ! work ! work ! That's all 
there is for us — and nothing in return for the work! 
We do not drink; we are not lazy; every day we pray 
to God. Yet debt is always following us, begging to 
be taken in. Many times I have wanted to borrow just 
a little from my boss, but my wife has always pleaded 
with me. 'No,' she would say, 'better die than to owe, for 
owing once means owing forever — and slavery.* 

"But sometimes," continued the old man, "I think it 
might be better to owe, better to fall in debt, better to 
give up our liberty than to go on like this to the end. 
True, I am getting old and I would love to die free, but 
it is hard — too hard !" 

The three-quarters of a million of chattel slaves and 
the five million peons do not monopolize the economic 
misery of Mexico. It extends to every class of men that 
toils. There are 150,000 mine and smelter workers who 
receive less money for a week's labor than an American 
miner of the same class gets for a day's wages. There 
are 30,000 cotton mill operatives whose wages average 
less than thirty cents a day in American money. There 
are a quarter of a million domestic servants whose wages 
range from one to five dollars a month. There are 
40,000 impressed soldiers who get less than two dollars 
a month above the scantiest rations. The common police- 
men of Mexico City, 2,000 of them, are paid but fifty 
cents a day in our money. Fifty cents a day is a high 
average for street-car conductors in the metropolis, where 
wages are higher than in any other section of the coun- 


try except close to the American border. And this pro- 
portion is constant throughout the industries. An offer 
of fifty cents a day without found, would, without the 
slightest doubt, bring in Mexico City an army of 50,000 
able-bodied laborers inside of twenty-four hours. 

From such miserable wages it must not be guessed 
that the cost of the necessities of life are less than they 
are here, as in the case of other low wage countries, such 
as India and China. On the contrary, the cost of corn 
and beans, upon which the mass of the Mexican people 
eke out their existence, is actually higher, as a rule, than 
it is in the United States. At this writing it costs nearly 
twice as much money to buy a hundred pounds of corn 
in Mexico City as it does in Chicago, and that in the 
same money, American gold or Mexican silver, take it as 
you like it. And this is the cheapest staple that the 
poverty-stricken Mexican is able to lay his hands upon. 

As to clothing and shelter, the common Mexican has 
about as little of either as can be imagined. The tene- 
ments of New York City are palatial homes compared to 
the tenements of Mexico City. A quarter of a mile in 
almost any direction off Diaz's grand Paseo de la 
Reforma, the magnificent driveway over which tourists 
are always taken and by which they usually judge Mexi- 
co, will carry the investigator into conditions that are 
not seen in any city worthy the name of civilized. If in 
all Mexico there exists a city with a really modem sewer 
system I am ignorant of its name. 

Travelers who have stopped at the best hotels of the 
metropolis may raise their eyebrows at this last state- 
ment, but a little investigation will show that not more 
than one-fifth of the houses within the limits of that 
metropolis are regularly supplied with water with which 
to flush the sewers, while there are many densely popu- 


lated blocks which have no public water whatsoever, 
neither for sewer flushing nor for drinking. 

It will take a few minutes' reflection to realize what 
this really means. As a result of such unsanitary con- 
ditions the death rate in that city ranges always between 
5 and 6 per cent, usually nearer the latter figure, which 
places that percentage at more than double the death 
rate of well-regulated cities of Europe, the United 
States and even of South America. Which proves that 
half the people who die in Diaz's metropolis die of causes 
which modern cities have abolished. 

A life-long resident once estimated to me that 200,000 
people of the country's metropolis, or two-fifths the 
entire population, spend every night on the stones. "On 
the stones" means not on the streets, for sleeping is not 
pernlitted on the streets or in the parks, but on the floors 
of cheap tenements or lodging houses. 

Possibly this is an exaggeration. From my own ob- 
servations, however, I know that 100,000 would be a 
very conservative estimate. And at least 25,000 pass the 
nights in mesones — the name commonly applied to the 
cheapest class of transient lodging houses. 

A meson is a pit of such misery as is surpassed only 
by the galeras, the sleeping jails, of the contract slaves 
of the hot lands — and the dormitories of the Mexican 
prisons. The chief difference between the mesones and 
the galeras is that into the latter the slaves are driven, 
tottering from overwork, semi-starvation and fever — 
driven with whips and locked in when they are there; 
while to the mesones the ragged, ill-nourished wretches 
from the city's streets come to buy with three precious 
copper centavos a brief and scanty shelter — a bare spot to 
lie down in, a grass mat, company with the vermin that 
squalor breeds, rest in a sickening room with hundreds 


of Others— snoring, tossing, groaning brothers and sisters 
in woe. 

During my most recent visit to Mexico— in the winter 
and spring of 1909 — I visited many of these mesones and 
took a number of flashlight photos oi the inmates. The 
conditions in all I found to be the same. The buildings 
are ancient ones — often hundreds of years old — which 
have been abandoned as unfit for any other purposes than 
as sleeping places for the country's poor. For three 
centavos the pilgrim gets a grass mat and the privilege 
of hunting for a bare spot large enough to lie down in. 
On cold nights the floor and yards are so thick with 
bodies that it is very difficult to find footing between the 
sleepers. In one room I have counted as high as two 

Poor women and girls must sleep, as well as poor men 
and boys, and if they cannot afford more than three 
cents for a bed they must go to the mesones with the 
men. In not one of the mesones that I visited was there 
a separate room for the women and girls, though there 
were many women and girls among the inmates. Like 
a man, a girl pays her three cents and gets a grass mat. 
She may come early and find a comparatively secluded 
nook in which to rest her weary body. But there is 
nothing to prevent a man from coming along, lying down 
beside her and annoying her throughout the night. 

And this thing is done. More than once, in my visits 
to mesones, I saw a young and unprotected girl awakened 
from her sleep and solicited by a strange man whose 
roving eye had lighted upon her as he came into the 
place. The mesones breed immorality as appallingly as 
they breed vermin. Homeless girls do not go to mesones 
because they are bad, but because they are poor. These 
places are licensed by the authorities and it would be a 


simple matter to require the proprietors to set apart a 
portion of the space exclusively for women. But this the 
authorities have not the decency to do. 

Miserable as are the mesones, the 25,000 homeless 
Mexicans who spend their nights there are fortunate com- 
pared to the thousands of others who, when the shadows 
fall upon them, find that they cannot produce the three 
centavos to pay for a grass mat and a spot on a bare 
floor. Every night there is a hegira of these thousands 
from the city's streets. Carrying what pitiful belongings 
they have, if they have any belongings, moving along 
hand in hand, if they are a family together, husband and 
wife, or merely friends drawn closer together by their 
poverty ; they travel for miles, out of the city to the open 
roads and fields, the great stock farms belonging to men 
high up in the councils of the government. Here they hud- 
dle about on the ground, shivering in the cold, for few 
nights in that altitude are not so cold that covering is not 
sorely needed. In the morning they travel back to the 
heart of the city, there to pit their feeble strength against 
the Powers that are conspiring to prevent them from 
earning a living; there, after vain and discouraging strug- 
gles, at last to fall into the net of the "labor agent," who 
is on the lookout for slaves for his wealthy clients, the 
planters of the lowland states. 

Mexico contains 767,000 square miles. Acre for acre, 
it is as rich as, if not richer than the United States. It 
has fine harbors on both coasts. It is approximately as 
near the world's markets as are we. There is no natural 
or geographical reason why its people should not be as 
prosperous and happy as any in the world. In point of 
years it is an older country than ours. It is not over- 
populated. With a population of 15,000,000, it has 
eighteen souls to the square mile, which is slightly less 






than we have here. Yet, seeing the heart of Mexico, it 
is inconceivable that there could be more extreme pov- 
erty in all the world. India or China could not be worse 
off, for if they were, acute starvation would depopulate 
them. Mexico is a people starved — a nation prostrate. 
What is the reason ? Who is to blame ? 



The slavery and peonage of Mexico, the poverty and 
illiteracy, the general prostration of the people, are due, 
in my humble judgment, to the financial and political 
organization that at present rules that country — in a 
word, to what I shall call the **system" of General 
Porfirio Diaz. 

That these conditions can be traced in a measure to 
the history of Mexico during past generations, is true. I 
do not wish to be unfair to General Diaz in the least 
degree. The Spanish Dons made slaves and peons of 
the Mexican people. Yet never did they grind the people 
as they are ground today. In Spanish times the peon at 
least had his own little patch of ground, his own hum- 
ble shelter ; today he has nothing. Moreover, the Declara- 
tion of Independence, proclaimed just one hundred 
years ago, in 1810, proclaimed also the abolition of chat- 
tel slavery. Slavery was abolished, though not entirely. 
Succeeding Mexican governments of class and of church 
and of the individual held the people in bondage little 
less severe. But finally came a democratic movement 
which broke the back of the church, which overthrew the 
rule of caste, which adopted a form of government as 
modern as our own, which freed the slave in fact as 
well as in name, which gave the lands of the people back 
to the people, which wiped the slate clean of the blood 
of the past. 

It was at this juncture that General Porfirio Diaz, with- 
out any valid excuse and apparently for no other reason 



than personal ambition, stirred up a series of revolu- 
tions which finally ended in his capture of the govern- 
mental powers of the land. While professing to respect 
the progressive institutions which Juarez and Lerdo had 
established before him, he built up a system all his own, 
a system in which he personally was the central and 
all-controlling figure, in which his individual caprice was 
the constitution and the law, in which all circumstances 
and all men, big and little, were bent or broken at his 
will. Like Louis XIV, The State — Porfirio Diaz was 
The State ! 

It was under Porfirio Diaz that slavery and peonage 
were re-established in Mexico, and on a more merciless 
basis than they had existed even under the Spanish 
Dons. Therefore, I can see no injustice in charging at least 
a preponderance of the blame for these conditions upon 
the system of Diaz. 

I say the "system of Diaz" rather than Diaz personally 
because, though he is the keystone of the arch, though he 
is the government of Mexico more completely than is 
any other individual the government of any large coun- 
try on the planet, yet no one man can stand alone in his 
iniquity. Diaz is the central prop of the slavery, but 
there are other props without which the system could 
not continue upright for a single day. For example, 
there is the collection of commercial interests which profit 
by the Diaz system of slavery and autocracy, and which 
puts no insignificant part of its tremendous powers to 
holding the central prop upright in exchange for the 
special privileges that it receives. Not the least among 
these commercial interests are American, which, I blush 
to say, are quite as aggressive defenders of the Diaz 
citadel as any. Indeed, as I shall show in future chap- 
ters, these American interests undoubtedly form the 


determining force in the continuation of Mexican slavery. 
Thus does Mexican slavery come home to us in the full 
sense of the term. For the horrors of Yucatan and Valle 
Nacional, Diaz is to blame, but so are we; we are to 
blame insofar as governmental powers over which we 
are conceded to have some control are employed under 
our very eyes for the perpetuation of a regime of which 
slavery and peonage are an integral part. 

In order that the reader may understand the Diaz sys- 
tem and its responsibility in the degradation of the 
Mexican people, it will be well to go back and trace 
briefly the beginnings of that system. Mexico is spoken 
of throughout the world as a Republic. That is because 
it was once a Republic and still pretends to be one. 
Mexico has a constitution which has never been repealed, 
a constitution said to be modeled after our own, and one 
which is, indeed, like ours in the main. Like ours, it pro- 
vides for a national congress, state legislatures and 
municipal aldermen to make the laws, federal, state and 
local judges to interpret them, and a president, governors 
and local executives to administer them. Like ours, it 
provides for manhood suffrage, freedom of the press and 
of speech, equality before the law, and the other guar- 
antees of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness which 
we ourselves enjoy, in a degree, as a matter of course. 

Such was Mexico forty years ago. Forty years ago 
Mexico was at peace with the world. She had just over- 
thrown, after a heroic war, the foreign prince, Maxi- 
milian, who had been seated as emperor by the armies 
of Napoleon Third of France. Her president, Benito 
Juarez, is today recognized in Mexico and out of Mexico 
as one of the most able as well as unselfish patriots of 
Mexican history. Never since Cortez fired his ships there 
on the gulf coast had Mexico enjoyed such prospects of 


political freedom, industrial prosperity and general ad- 

But in spite of these facts and the additional fact that 
he was deeply indebted to Juarez, all his military pro- 
motions having been received at the hands of the latter. 
General Porfirio Diaz stirred up a series of rebellions 
for the purpose of securing for himself the supreme 
power of the land. Diaz not only led one armed rebel- 
lion against a peaceable, constitutional and popularly ap- 
proved government, but he led three of them. For nine 
years he plotted as a common rebel. The support that 
he received came chiefly from bandits, criminals and pro- 
fessional soldiers who were disgruntled at the anti-mili- 
tarist policy which Juarez had inaugurated and which, if 
he could have carried it out a little farther, would have 
been effective in preventing military revolutions in the 
future — and from the Catholic church. 

Repeatedly it was proved that the people did not want 
Diaz at the head of their government. Three times dur- 
ing his first five years of plotting he was an unsuccessful 
candidate at the polls. In 1867 he received a little more 
than one-third the votes counted for Juarez. In 1871 he 
received about three-fifths as many votes as Juarez. In 
1872, after the death of Juarez, he ran against Lerdo de 
Tejada and received only one-fifteenth as many votes as 
his opponent. While in arms he was looked upon as a 
common rebel at home and abroad and when he marched 
into the national capital at the head of a victorious 
army and proclaimed himself president hardly a Euro- 
pean nation would at first recognize the upstart govern- 
ment, while the United States for a time threatened 

In defiance of the will of the majority of the people 
of Mexico, General Diaz, thirty-four years ago, came to 


the head of government. In defiance of the will of the 
majority of the people he has remained there ever since — 
except for four years, from 1880 to 1884, when he 
turned the palace over to an intimate friend, Manuel 
Gonzalez, on the distinct understanding that at the end 
of the four years Gonzalez would turn it back to him 
j again. 

j Since no man can rule an unwilling people without 
j taking away the liberties of that people, it can be very 
/ easily understood what sort of regime General Diaz found 
j it necessary to establish in order to make his power 
secure. By the use of the army and the police powers 
generally, he controlled elections, the press and public 
speech and made of popular government a farce. By 
distributing the public offices among his generals and 
granting them free rein to plunder at will, he assured 
himself of the continued use of the army. By making 
political combinations with men high in the esteem of 
the Catholic church and permitting it to be whispered 
about that the church was to regain some of its former 
powers, he gained the silent support of the priests and the 
Pope. By promising full payment of all foreign debts 
and launching at once upon a policy of distributing 
favors among citizens of other countries, he made his 
peace with the world at large. 

In other words, General Diaz, with a skill that none 
'i can deny, annexed to himself all the elements of power in 
I the country except the nation at large. On the one hand, 
jhe had a military dictatorship. On the other, he had a 
financial camarilla. Himself was the center of the arch 
and he was compelled to pay the price. The price was the 
nation at large. He created a machine and oiled the 
machine with the flesh and blood of a people. He re- 
warded all except the people ; the people were the sacri- 


fice. Inevitable as the blackness of night, in contrast to 
the sun-glory of the dictator, came the degradation of 
the people — the slavery, the peonage and every misery 
that walks with poverty, the abolition of democracy and 
the personal security that breeds providence, self-respect 
and worthy ambition ; in a word, general demoralization, 

Take, for example, Diaz's method of rewarding his 
military chiefs, the men who helped him overthrow the 
government of Lerdo. As quickly as possible after 
assuming the power, he installed his generals as governors 
of the various states and organized them and other influ- 
ential figures in the nation into a national plunderbund. 
Thus he assured himself of the continued loyalty of the 
generals, on the one hand, and put them where he could 
most effectively use them for keeping down the people, on 
the other. One variety of rich plum which he handed out 
in those early days to his governors came in the form of 
charters giving- his governors the right, as individuals, to 
organize companies and build railroads, each charter 
carrying with it a huge sum as a railroad subsidy. 

The national government paid for the road and then 
the governor and his most influential friends owned it. 
Usually the railroads were ridiculous affairs, were of 
narrow-gauge and of the very cheapest materials, but 
the subsidy was very large, sufficient to build the road 
and probably equip it besides. During his first term of 
four years in ofiice Diaz passed sixty-one railroad sub- 
sidy acts containing appropriations aggregating $40,000,- 
000, and all but two or three of these acts were in favor 
of governors of states. In a number of cases not a mile 
of railroad was actually built, but the subsidies are sup- 
posed to have been paid, anyhow. In nearly every case 
the subsidy vras the same, $12,880 per mile in Mexican 


silver, and in those days Mexican silver was nearly on a 
par with gold. 

This huge sum was taken out of the national treasury 
and was supposedly paid to the governors, although 
Mexican politicians of the old times have assured me that 
it was divided, a part going out as actual subsidies and a 
part going directly into the hands of Diaz to be used in 
building up his machine in other quarters. 

Certainly something more than mere loyalty, however 
invaluable it was, was required of the governors in 
exchange for such rich financial plums. It is a well 
authenticated fact that governors were required to pay a 
fixed sum annually for the privilege of exploiting to the 
limit the graft possibilities of their offices. For a long, 
time Manuel Romero Rubio, father-in-law of Diaz, was 
the collector of these perquisites, the offices bringing in 
anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 per year. 

The largest single perquisite whereby Diaz enriched 
himself, the members of his immediate family, his 
friends, his governors, his financial ring and his foreign 
favorites, was found for a long time in the confiscation of 
the lands of the common people — a confiscation, in fact, 
which is going on to this day. Note that this land rob- 
bery was the first direct step in the path of the Mexican 
people back to their bondage as slaves and peons. 

In a previous chapter I showed how the lands of the 
Yaquis of Sonora were taken from them and given to 
political favorites of the ruler. The lands of the Mayas 
of Yucatan, now enslaved by the henequen planters, were 
taken from them in almost the same manner. The final 
act in this confiscation was accomplished in the year 
1904, when the national government set aside the last of 
their lands into a territory called Quintana Roo. This 
territory contains 43,000 square kilometers or 27,000 


square miles. It is larger than the present state of 
Yucatan by 8,000 square kilometers, and moreover is the 
most promising land of the entire peninsula. Separated 
from the island of Cuba by a narrow strait, its soil and 
climate are strikingly similar to those of Cuba and ex- 
perts have declared that there is no reason why Quintana 
Roo should not one day become as great a tobacco-grow- 
ing country as Cuba. Further than that, its hillsides are 
thickly covered with the most valuable cabinet and dye- 
woods in the world. It is this magnificent country which, 
as the last chapter in the life of the Mayas as a nation, the 
Diaz government took and handed over to eight Mexican 

In like manner have the Mayos of Sonora, the Papagos, 
the Tomosachics — in fact, practically all the native peoples 
of Mexico — been reduced to peonage, if not to slavery. 
Small holders of every tribe and nation have gradually 
been expropriated until today their number as property 
holders is almost down to zero. Their lands are in the 
hands of members of the governmental machine, or per- 
sons to whom the members of the machine have sold for 
profit — or in the hands of foreigners. 

This is why the typical Mexican farm is the million- 
acre farm, why it has been so easy for such Americans as 
William Randolph Hearst, Harrison Gray Otis, E. H. 
Harriman, the Rockefellers, the Guggenheims and nu- 
merous others each to have obtained possession of mil- 
lions of Mexican acres. This is why Secretary of 
Fomento Molina holds more than 15,000,000 acres of the 
soil of Mexico, why ex-Governor Terrazas, of Chihuahua, 
owns 15,000,000 acres of the soil of that state, why 
Finance Minister Limantour, Mrs. Porfirio Diaz, Vice- 
President Corral, Governor Pimentel, of Chiapas, Gover- 
nor Landa y Escandon of the Federal District, Governor 


Pablo Escandon of Morelos, Governor Ahumada of 
Jalisco, Governor Cosio of Queretaro, Governor Mercado 
of Michoacan, Governor Canedo of Sinaloa, Governor 
Cahuantzi of Tlaxcala, and many other members of the 
Diaz machine are not only millionaires, but they are 
millionaires in Mexican real estate. 

Chief among the methods used in getting the lands 
away from the people in general was through a land regis- 
tration law which Diaz fathered. This law permitted any 
person to go out and claim any lands to which the pos- 
sessor could not prove a recorded title. Since up to the 
time the law was enacted it was not the custom to record 
titles, this meant all the lands of Mexico. When a man 
possessed a home which his father had possessed before 
him, and which his grandfather had possessed, which 
his great-grandfather had possessed, and which had been 
in the family as far back as history knew, then he con- 
sidered that he owned that home, all of his neighbors con- 
sidered that he owned it, and all governments up to that 
of Diaz recognized his right to that home. 

Supposing that a strict registration law became neces- 
sary in the course of evolution, had this law been enacted 
for the purpose of protecting the land owners instead of 
plundering them the government would, naturally, have 
sent agents through the country to apprise the people 
of the new law and to help them register their property 
and keep their homes. But this was not done and the 
conclusion is inevitable that the law was passed for the 
purpose of plundering. 

At all events, the result of the law was a plundering. 
No sooner had it been passed than the aforesaid mem- 
bers of the governmental machine, headed by the father- 
in-law of Diaz, and Diaz himself, formed land companies 
and sent out agents, not to help the people keep their 


lands, but to select the most desirable lands in the 
country, register them, and evict the owners. This they 
did on a most tremendous scale. Thus hundreds of 
thousands of small farmers lost their property. Thus 
small farmers are still losing their property. In order 
to cite an example, I reprint a dispatch dated Merida, 
Yucatan, April 11, 1909, and published April 12 in the 
Mexican Herald, an American daily newspaper printed 
in Mexico City: 

"Merida, April 11. — Minister Olegario Molina, of the Depart- 
ment of Fomento, Colonization and Industry, has made a 
denouncement before the agency here of extensive territory lying 
adjacent to his lands in Tizimin partldo. The denouncement 
was made through Esteban Re] on Garcia, his administrador at 
that place. 

"The section was taken on the ground that those now occupy- 
ing them have no documents or titles of ownership. 

"They measure 2,700 hectares (about 6,000 acres, or over nine 
square miles), and include perfectly organized towns, some fine 
ranches, including those of Laureano Breseno and Rafael 
Aguilar, and other properties. The jefe politico of Tizimin has 
notified the population of the town, the owners and laborers on 
the ranches, and others on the lands, that they will be obliged 
to vacate within two months or become subject to the new 

"The present occupants have lived for years upon the land 
and have cultivated and improved much of it. Some have 
lived there from generation to generation, and have thought 
themselves the rightful owners, having inherited it from the 
original 'squatters.' 

"Mr. Rejon Garcia has also denounced other similar public 
lands in the Espita partido." 

Another favorite means of confiscating the homes of 
small owners is found in the juggling of state taxes. 
State taxes in Mexico are fearfully and wonderfully 
made. Especially in the less populous districts owners 
are taxed inversely as they stand in favor with the 


personality who represents the government in their par- 
ticular district. No court, board or other responsible 
body sits to review unjust assessments. The jefe politico 
may charge one farmer five times as much per acre as 
he charges the farmer across the fence, and yet Farmer 
No. 1 has no redress unless he is rich and powerful. He 
must pay, and if he cannot, the farm is a little later listed 
among the properties of the jefe politico, or one of the 
members of his family, or among the properties of the 
governor of the state or one of the members of his family. 
But if he is rich and powerful he is often not taxed at all. 
American promoters in Mexico escape taxation so nearly 
invariably that the impression has got abroad in this 
country that land pays no taxes in Mexico. Even 
Frederick Palmer made a statement to this effect in his 
recent writings about that country. 

Of course such bandit methods as were employed and 
are still employed were certain to meet with resistance, 
and so we find numerous instances of regiments of sol- 
diers being called out to enforce collection of taxes or 
the eviction of time-honored land-holders. Mexican his- 
tory of the past generation is blotched with stories of 
massacres having their cause in this thing. Among the 
most noted of these massacres are those of Papantla and 
Tomosachic. Manuel Romero Rubio, the late father-in- 
law of General Diaz, denounced the lands of several thou- 
sand farmers in the vicinity of Papantla, Veracruz. Diaz 
backed him up with several regiments of regulars and 
before the farmers were all evicted four hundred, or 
some such number, were killed. In the year 1892, General 
Lauro Carrillo, who was then governor of Chihuahua, laid 
a tax on the town of Tomosachic, center of the Tomosa- 
chic settlement, which it was impossible for the people to 
pay. The immediate cause of the exorbitant tax, so the 


story goes, was that the authorities of the town had re- 
fused Carrillo some paintings which adorned the walls of 
their church and which he desired for his own home. Car- 
rillo carried away some leading men of the town as host- 
ages, and when the people still refused to pay, he sent sol- 
diers for more hostages. The soldiers were driven away, 
after which Carrillo laid siege to the town with eight 
regiments. In the end the town was burned and a 
churchful of women and children were burned, too. 
Accounts of the Tomosachic massacre place the number 
of killed variously at from 800 to 2,000. 

Cases of more recent blood spiUings in the same cause 
are numerous. Hardly a month passes today without 
there being one or more reports in Mexican papers of 
disturbances, the result of confiscation of homes, either 
through the denunciation method or the excuse of non- 
payment of taxes. Notable among these was the case of 
San Andreas, State of Chihuahua, which was exploited in 
the Mexican press in April, 1909. According to those 
press reports, the state authorities confiscated lands of 
several score of farmers, the excuse being that the own- 
ers were delinquent in their taxes. The farmers resisted 
eviction in a body and two carloads of troops, hurried to 
the scene from the capital of the state, promptly cleaned 
them out, shooting some and chasing half a hundred of 
them into the mountains. Here they stayed until starved 
out, when they straggled back, begging for mercy. As 
they came they were thrown into jail, men, women and 
children. The government carefully concealed the truth 
as to the number killed in the skirmish with the troops, 
but reports place it at from five to twenty-five. 

An incident of the same class was that of San Carlos, 
also in the State of Chihuahua, which occurred in 
August, 1909. At San Carlos, center of a farming dis- 


trict, the misuse of the taxing power became so unbear- 
able that four hundred small farmers banded together, 
defied a force of fifty rurales, forcibly deposed the jefe 
politico, and elected another in his place, then went back 
to their plows. It was a little revolution which the news- 
paper reports of the time declared was the first of its 
kind to which the present government of Mexico ever 
yielded. Whether the popularly constituted local gov- 
ernment was permitted to remain or whether it was 
later overthrown by a regiment of soldiers is not re- 
corded, though the latter seems most likely. 

Graft is an established institution in the public offices 
of Mexico. It is a right vested in the office itself, is 
recognized as such, and is respectable. There are two 
main functions attached to each public office, one a 
privilege, the other a duty. The privilege is that of 
using the special powers of the office for the amassing 
of a personal fortune; the duty is that of preventing the 
people from entering into any activities that may endan- 
ger the stability of the existing regime. Theoretically, 
the fulfillment of the duty is judged as balancing the 
harvest of the privilege, but with all offices and all places 
this is not so, and so we find offices of particularly rosy 
possibilities selling for a fixed price. Examples are those 
of the jefes politicos in districts where the slave trade is 
peculiarly remunerative, as at Pachuca, Oaxaca, Vera- 
cruz, Orizaba, Cordoba and Rio Blanco; of the districts 
in which the drafting of soldiers for the army is especially 
let to the jefes politicos; of the towns in which the 
gambling privileges are let as a monopoly to the mayors 
thereof; of the states in which there exist opportunities 
extraordinary for governors to graft off the army supply 

Monopolies called ^'concessions," which are nothing 


more nor less than trusts created by governmental decree, 
are dealt in openly by the Mexican government. Some of 
these concessions are sold for cash, but the rule is to give 
them away gratis or for a nominal price, the real price 
being collected in political support. The public domain 
is sold in huge tracts for a nominal price or for nothing 
at all, the money price, when paid at all, averaging about 
fifty Mexican centavos an acre. But never does the 
government sell to any individual or company not of its 
own special choice; that is, the public domain is by no 
means open to all comers on equal terms. Public con- 
cessions worth millions of dollars — to use the water of 
a river for irrigation purposes, or for power, to engage 
in this or that monopoly, have been given away, but not 
indiscriminately. These things are the coin with which 
political support is bought and as such are grafts, pure 
and simple. 

Public action of any sort is never taken for the sake 
of improving the condition of the common people. It is 
taken with a view to making the government more 
secure in its position. Mexico is a land of special privi- 
leges extraordinary, though frequently special privi- 
leges are provided for in the name of the common people. 
An instance is that of the "Agricultural Bank," which 
was created in 1908. To read the press reports concern- 
ing the purpose of this bank one would imagine that 
the government had launched into a gigantic and benevo- 
lent scheme to re-establish its expropriated people in 
agriculture. The purpose, it was said, was to loan money 
to needy farmers. But nothing could be farther from 
the truth, for the purpose is to help out the rich farmer, 
and only the richest in the land. The bank has now 
been loaning money for two years, but so far not a 
iingle case has been recorded in which aid was given 


to help a farm that comprised less than thousands of 
acres. Millions have been loaned on private irrigation 
projects, but never in lumps of less than several tens of 
thousands. In the United States the farmer class is an 
humble class indeed ; in Mexico the typical farmer is the 
king of millionaires, a little potentate. In Mexico, be- 
cause of the special privileges given by the government, 
medievalism still prevails outside the cities. The barons 
are richer and more powerful than were the landed 
aristocrats before the French Revolution, and the canaille 
poorer, more miserable. 

And the special financial privileges centering in the 
cities are no less remarkable than the special privileges 
given to the exploiters of the hacienda slave. There is 
a financial ring consisting of members of the Diaz ma- 
chine and their close associates, who pluck all the finan- 
cial plums of the "republic," who get the contracts, the 
franchises and the concessions, and whom the large aggre- 
gations of foreign capital which secure a footing in the 
country find it necessary to take as coupon-clipping part- 
ners. The "Banco Nacional," an institution having some 
fifty-four branches and which has been compared flat- 
teringly to the Bank of England, is the special financial 
vehicle of the government camarilla. It monopolizes the 
major portion of the banking business of the country and 
is a convenient cloak for the larger grafts, such as the 
railway merger, the true significance of which I shall 
present in a future chapter. 

Diaz encourages foreign capital, for foreign capital 
means the support of foreign governments. American 
capital has a smoother time with Diaz than it has even 
with its own government, which is very fine from the 
point of view of American capital, but not so good from 
the point of view of the Mexican people. Diaz has even 



entered into direct partnership with certain aggrega- 
tions of foreign capital, granting these aggregations 
special privileges in some lines which he has refused to 
his own millionaires. These foreign partnerships which 
Diaz has formed has made his government international 
insofar as the props which support his system are con- 
cerned. The certainty of foreign intervention in his 
favor has been one of the powerful forces which have 
prevented the Mexican people from using arms to remove 
a ruler who imposed himself upon them by the use of 

When I come to deal with the American partners of 
Diaz I mention those of no other nationality in the same 
breath, but it will be well to bear in mind that England, 
especially, is nearly as heavily as interested in Mexico as 
is the United States. While this country has $900,000,000 
(these are the figures given by Consul General Shanklin 
about the first of the year 1910) invested in Mexico, 
England (according to the South American Journal) has 
$750,000,000. However, these figures by no means repre- 
sent the ratio between the degree of political influence 
exerted by the two countries. There the United States 
bests all the other countries combined. 

Yet there are two English corporations so closely iden- 
tified with the Mexican financial ring as to deserve special 
mention. They are the combination represented by Dr. 
F. S. Pearson, of Canada and London, and the other cor- 
poration distinct from the first, S. Pearson & Son, Lim- 
ited. Of Dr. F. S. Pearson it is boasted that he can get 
any concession that he wants in Mexico, barring alone 
such a one as would antagonize other foreign interests 
equally powerful. Dr. Pearson owns the electric railway 
system of the Federal District and furnishes the vast 
quantity of electric light and power used in that political 


division of Mexico. Among other things, he is also a 
strong power along the American border, where he and 
his associates own the Mexico Northwestern Railway and 
several smaller lines, as well as vast tracts of lands and 
huge lumber interests. In Chihuahua he is establishing 
a large steel plant and in El Paso, just across the line, 
he is building a half million dollar sawmill as a part of his 
Mexican projects. 

S. Pearson & Son have been given so many valuable 
concessions in Mexico that they were responsible for the 
invention of the term, **the partners of Diaz." Through 
concessions given them by the government they are in 
possession of vast oil lands, most of which are unex- 
ploited, yet so many of which are producing that the com- 
pany recently gave out a statement that it would hereafter 
be in a position to supply its entire trade with Mexican 
oil. Its distributing company, "El Aguila," contains on 
its directorate a number of Diaz's closest friends. Pear- 
son & Son, also, have monopolized the contracts for deep- 
ening and improving the harbors of Mexico. Since their 
advent into the country some fourteen years ago the 
government treasury has paid to this concern $200,000,000 
for work on the harbors of Salina Cruz and Coatza- 
coalcos, and the Isthmus railroad. This amount, a 
government engineer told me personally, is an even double 
the price that should have been paid for the work. In 1908 
Diaz's congress appropriated $50,000,000 to install an 
extensive irrigation project on the Rio Nasus, for the 
benefit of the cotton barons of the Laguna district in the 
State of Durango. Immediately afterwards the Pearson 
company organized a subsidiary irrigation concern with 
a capital of one million. The new company drew up plans 
for a dam, whereupon the Diaz congress promptly voted 


$10,000,000 out of the $50,000,000 to be paid to the 
Pearsons for their dam. 

In this chapter I have attempted to give the reader an 
idea of the means which General Diaz employed to 
attract support to his government. To sum up, by means 
of a careful placing of public offices, public contracts and 
special privileges of multitudinous sorts, Diaz absorbed 
all of the more powerful men and interests within his 
sphere and made them a part of his machine. Gradually 
the country passed into the hands of his officeholders, 
their friends, and foreigners. And for this the people 
paid, not only with their lands, but with their flesh and 
blood. They paid in peonage and slavery. For this they 
forfeited liberty, democracy and the blessings of progress. 
And because human beings do not forfeit these things 
without a struggle, there was necessarily another function 
of the Diaz machine than that of distributing gifts, an- 
other material that went into the structure of his govern- 
ment than favors. Privilege — repression; they go hand 
in hand. In this chapter I have attempted to sketch a 
picture of the privilege attached to the Diaz system; in 
the succeeding chapter I shall attempt to define its ele- 
ments of repression. 



Americans launching upon business in Mexico are 
usually given about the same treatment at the hands of 
local authorities as they have been used to at home. The 
readier hand for graft is more than overbalanced by the 
easier plucking of the special privilege plum. Sometimes 
an American falls into disfavor and is cautiously perse- 
cuted, but it is seldom. And if he is there to get rich 
quickly, as is usual, he judges the Mexican government 
by the aid it gives to his ambition. To him the system of 
Diaz is the wisest, most modern and most beneficent on 
the face of the earth. 

To be wholly fair to Diaz and his system, I must con- 
fess that I am not judging Mexico from the viewpoint of 
the American investor. I am estimating it from its eifects 
upon the mass of Mexicans generally, who, in the end, 
must surely determine the destiny of Mexico. From the 
viewpoint of the common Mexican the government is 
wholly the opposite of beneficent; it is a slave-driver, a 
thief, a murderer; it has neither justice nor mercy — 
not-hing but exploitation. 

In order to impose his rule upon an unwilling people 
General Diaz found it necessary not only to reward the 
powerful of his country and to be free and easy with the 
foreigner, but also to strip the people of their liberties to 
the point of nakedness. He took away from them all 
governmental powers, rights and securities^ and all powers 



to demand the return of these things. Why do nations 
universally demand a popular form of government? 
Never until I saw Mexico did I appreciate to its full the 
reason why. The answer is that life under any other 
system is intolerable. The common interests can be con- 
served only by the common voice. Governments by indi- 
viduals not responsible to the mass invariably result in 
robbery of the mass and debasement of the nation. The 
upbuilding of any people requires certain social guar- 
antees which are not possible except under a government 
in which considerable numbers take part. 

When General Diaz led his army into the Mexican 
capital back in 1876 he declared himself provisional presi- 
dent. Shortly afterwards he held a pretended election 
and declared himself constitutional president. By a "pre- 
tended election" I mean that he put his soldiers in posses- 
sion of the polls and prevented, by intimidation, anyone 
from appearing as a candidate against him. Thus was he 
"elected" unanimously. And, except for one term, when 
he voluntarily relinquished the office, he has continued to 
elect himself unanimously in much the same way. 

I do not need to dwell on the election farces of Mexico, 
since the warmest flatterers of Diaz admit that Mexico 
has not had one real election during the past thirty-four 
years. But to those who desire some statement of the 
matter it will only be necessary to point out the results 
of the Mexican "elections." Can anyone imagine a nation 
of some 15,000,000 with, say 3,000,000 persons of voting 
age, all preferring the same man for their chief executive, 
not only once, but year after year and decade after 
decade? Just picture such a condition obtaining in the 
United States, for example. Could anyone imagine Mr. 
Taft being re-elected by a unanimous vote ? Mr. Roose- 
velt was undoubtedly the most popular president this 


country ever had. Could anybody imagine Mr. Roose- 
velt being re-elected by a unanimous vote? Moreover, 
could anyone imagine a country of 15,000,000 souls in 
which ambition never stirred the heart of more than one 
individual with the desire to stand before the people as a 
candidate for the highest office in the nation ? 

And yet this is exactly the condition we find in Mexico. 
Eight times Don Porfirio has been seated as "president." 
Eight times he has been elected "unanimously." Never 
has an opponent stood against him at the polls. 

And the story of the presidential succession is repeated 
in the states. Re-election without contest is a rule which 
has seen exceedingly few exceptions. The governor of 
the state holds office for life, unless for some reason he 
loses favor with Don Porfirio, which is seldom. A mem- 
ber of the Mexican upper class once put the situation to 
me quite aptly. Said he : "Death is the only anti-re-elec- 
tionist in Mexico." The chief reason why the states are 
not governed by men who have been in office for thirty- 
four years is because those who were first put in have 
died and it has become necessary to fill their places with 
others. As it is, Colonel Prospero Cahuantzi has ruled 
the State of Tlaxcala for the whole Porfirian period. 
General Aristeo Mercado has ruled the State of Michoa- 
can for over twenty-five years. Teodoro Dehesa has 
governed the State of Veracruz for twenty-five years. 
When deposed in 1909, General Bernardo Reyes had gov- 
erned the State of Nuevo Leon for nearly twenty-five 
years. General Francisco Canedo, General Abraham 
Bandala and Pedro Rodriguez ruled the States of Sinaloa, 
Tabasco and Hidalgo, respectively, for over twenty years. 
General Luis Terrazas was governor of Chihuahua for 
over twenty years, while Governors Martinez, Cardenas 
and Obregon Gonzalez ruled the States of Puebla, Coa- 



huila and Guanajuato, respectively, for about fifteen 

Diaz's system of government is very simple, once it 
is explained. The president, the governor, the jefe 
politico — these three names represent all the power in the 
country. In Mexico there is but one governmental power 
— the executive. The other two departments exist in 
name only. Not one elective office remains in the country. 
All are appointive. And through the appointive power 
the three executives mentioned control the entire situa- 
tion. The word of these three officials in his particular 
sphere — the president in the twenty-seven states and two 
territories, the governor in his state, the jefe politico in 
his district — is the law of the land. Not one of the three 
is required to answer to the people for his acts. The 
governor must answer to the president and the jefe 
politico to the governor and the president. It is the most 
perfect one-man system on earth. 

Of course such conditions were not established with- 
out a struggle. Neither can they be maintained without 
continued struggle. Autocracy cannot be created by fiat. 
Slavery cannot exist merely by decree of a ruler. There 
must be an organization and a policy to compel such 
things. There must be a military organization armed to 
the teeth. There must be police and police spies. There 
must be expropriations and imprisonments for political 
purposes. And there must be murder — murder all the 
time. No autocracy can exist without murder. Autoc- 
racy feeds upon murder. It has never been otherwise, 
and, thanks to human nature as we find it, never can be. 

The succeeding two chapters are to be devoted to 
sketching the extirpation of political movements having 
for their purpose the re-establishment of republican insti- 
tutions in Mexico. But first it seems well to define the 


public powers and institutions which are employed in this 
unholy work. These consist of : 

The army. 

The rurale forces. 

The police. 

The acordada. 

The Ley Fuga. 

Quintana Roo, the "Mexican Siberia." 

The prisons. 

The jefes politicos. 

In a published interview issued during the Liberal re- 
bellion in 1908, Vice-President Corral announced that the 
government had more than 50,000 soldiers who were 
ready to take the field at an hour's notice. In these 
figures he must have included the rurale forces, for em- 
ployes of the War Department have since assured me 
that the regular army numbered less, almost an exact 
40,000, in fact. On paper the Mexican army is, then, 
smaller than ours, but, according to estimates of the 
actual size of our army published by American experts 
during the past three years, it is larger, and in propor- 
tion to the population it is at least five times larger. 
General Diaz's excuse for the maintenance of such a 
large army has always been a hint that the country might 
at any time find itself in danger of invasion by the 
United States. That his purpose was not so much to pre- 
pare against invasion as against internal revolution is 
evidenced by the fact that, instead of fortifying the bor- 
der, he fortified inland cities. Moreover, he keeps the 
bulk of the army concentrated near the large centers of 
population and his best and most extensive equipment 
consists of mountain batteries, recognized as specially 
well adapted to internal warfare. 

Mexico is actually policed by the army and to this end 


the country is divided into ten military zones, three 
commanderies and fourteen jefaturas. One sees soldiers 
everywhere. There is not an important city in the coun- 
try that has not its army barracks, and the barracks are 
situated in the heart of the city, where they are always 
ready. The discipline of war is maintained at all times, 
the presence of the soldiers and their constant drilling 
are a perpetual threat to the people. And they are used 
upon the people often enough to keep always fresh in 
the memories of the people the fact that the threat is not 
an empty one. Such readiness for war as is maintained 
on the part of the Mexican troops is not known in this 
country. There is no red tape when it comes to fighting 
and troops arrive at a scene of trouble in an incredibly 
short time. As one example, at the time of the Liberal 
rebellion in the fall of 1906 the Liberals attacked the city 
of Acayucan, Veracruz. Despite the fact that the city is 
situated in a comparatively isolated part of the tropics, 
the government concentrated 4,000 soldiers on the town 
within twenty-four hours after the first alarm. 

As an instrument of repression, the Mexican army is 
employed effectively in two separate and distinct ways. 
It is an engine of massacre and it is an exile institution, a 
jail-house, a concentration camp for the politically un- 

This second function of the army abides in the fact 
that more than 95 per cent of the enlisted men are 
drafted, and drafted for the particular reason that they 
are politically undesirable citizens, or that they are good 
subjects for graft on the part of the drafter. The 
drafter is usually the jefe politico. A judge — at the 
instance of the executive authority — sometimes sentences 
a culprit to the army instead of to jail, and a governor — 
as at Cananea — sometimes personally superintends the 


placing of considerable bodies of men in the army, but 
as a rule the jefe politico is the drafting officer and upon 
him there is no check. He has no system other than to 
follow his own sweet will. He drafts laborers who dare 
to strike, editors who criticize the government, farmers 
who resist exorbitant taxation, and any other ordinary 
citizens who may present opportunities for graft. 

As a dumping ground for the politically undesirable, 
the conditions within the army are ideal, from the point 
of view of the government. The men are prisoners 
rather than soldiers and they are treated as such. For 
this reason the Mexican army has gained the title of 
"The National Chain-gang." While in Diaz-land I 
visited a number of army barracks. The barracks at Rio 
Blanco are typical. Here, ever since the Rio Blanco 
strike, 600 soldiers and 200 ruralcs have been quartered 
within the shadow of the great mill, in barracks and upon 
ground furnished by the company, an hourly menace to 
the miserably exploited workers there. 

At Rio Blanco a little captain showed us about — ^De 
Lara and I — at the behest of an officer of the manufac- 
turing company. El Senor Capitan informed us that the 
pay of the Mexican soldier, with rations, is $1.90 per 
month in American money and that the soldier is always 
expected to spend the major portion of this for extra 
food, as the food furnished is of too small a variety and 
too scarce a quantity to satisfy any human being. The 
captain confirmed the reports that I had often heard to 
the effect that the soldier, in all his five years service, 
never has an hour to himself away from the eye of an 
officer, that he is as much a prisoner in his barracks as 
is the life-termer in a penitentiary. 

The proportion of involuntary soldiers the captain esti- 
mated at 98 per cent. Often, said he, the soldiers, crazy 




for freedom, break and run like escaping convicts. And 
they are hunted down Hke convicts. 

But the thing that struck me most forcibly during my 
visit was that the little captain, in the hearing of half a 
company of men, told us that the soldiers were of the 
lowest class o^ Mexicans, were good for nothing, a bad 
lot, etc., apologizing thus in order to make us understand 
that in time of war the quality of the army would be 
much improved. The soldiers heard and failed to look 
pleasant and I decided right there that the loyalty of the 
Mexican army stands upon a very flimsy basis — merely 
fear of death — and that in case of any future rebellion 
against the dictatorship the army can be counted upon to 
revolt in a body as soon as the rebellion develops any 
appreciable strength — that is, enough strength to afford 
the deserters a fair chance for their lives. 

The territory of Quintana Roo has been characterized 
as one of the "Siberias of Mexico," from the fact that 
to it, as convict-soldiers, are consigned thousands of 
political suspects and labor agitators. Sent there osten- 
sibly to fight the Maya Indians, they are treated so 
harshly that probably not one per cent of them ever see 
their homes again. I did not succeed in penetrating per- 
sonally to Quintana Roo, but I have heard accounts of 
it from so many authentic sources that I have no doubt 
whatever that my estimate of it is correct. One of these 
sources of information I shall quote at some length, a 
distinguished government physician who for three years 
was Chief of Sanitary Service with the army in the 

"For thirty years," said this man, "there has been an 
army of from 2,000 to 3,000 men constantly in the field 
against the Maya Indians. These soldiers are made up 
almost entirely of political suspects and even many of 


the officers are men who have been detailed to duty in 
the territory only because the government has some rea- 
son for wanting to get rid of them. Quintana Roo is 
the most unhealthy part of Mexico, but the soldiers die 
from five to ten times as fast as necessary because of the 
grafting of their chief, General Bravo. During the first 
two years I was there the death rate was 100 per cent 
a year, for in that period more than 4,000 soldiers died of 
starvation and sickness induced by starvation! 

"For month after month," said this physician, "I have 
known the deaths to average thirty a day. For every sol- 
dier killed by a Maya at least one hundred die of starva- 
tion or sickness. General Bravo steals the commissary 
money and starves the soldiers with the connivance of 
the federal government. More than 2,000 have died of 
acute starvation alone during the past seven years, since 
General Bravo took command. Not only that, but Bravo 
steals the cremation money. The soil of the peninsula, 
you must know, is rocky, the hard-pan is close to the 
surface and it is not practical to bury the dead. The gov- 
ernment appropriates money to buy oil for cremation, but 
Bravo steals this money and leaves the bodies to lie in the 
sun and rot away!'* 

Because it would result in his imprisonment I cannot 
publish the name of this authority. I feel perfectly free, 
however, to name Colonel Francisco B. Cruz, chief de- 
porter of Yaquis. Colonel Cruz told me that in three 
years General Bravo had saved $10,000,000 from money 
grafted off the army in Quintana Roo. The fact that 
nearly all the deaths of soldiers was the result of starva- 
tion was proven in the year 1902 to 1903, when General 
Bravo took a vacation and General Vega had command. 
General Vega stole no food or medicine or oil money 


and as a result he reduced the number of deaths from 
thirty a day to an average of three a day. 

"In its campaign against the Mayas/' the former Sani- 
tary Chief told me, "the government built a railroad 
sixty metres long. This railroad is known among the 
soldiers as The Alley of Death/ for it is said that every 
tie cost five lives in the building. When this road was 
built many prisoners were taken from the military prison 
of San Juan de Ulua to do the work. To encourage 
them to toil all were promised that their sentences would 
be cut in half, but after a few weeks in the hands of 
Bravo the majority begged — but in vain — to be returned 
to Ulua, which is the most dreaded of all houses of incar- 
ceration in Mexico. These unfortunate prisoners were 
starved and when they staggered from weakness they 
were beaten, some being beaten to death. Some of them 
committed suicide at the first opportunity, as did many 
of the soldiers — fifty of them, while I was there." 

Fancy a soldier committing suicide! Fancy the cruel 
conditions that would lead fifty soldiers among 2,000 to 
commit suicide in the space of three years ! 

As to the graft features of the army drafting system, 
as I have suggested, the jefe politico selects the names 
in his own way in the privacy of his own office and no 
one may question his methods. Wherefore he waxes 
rich. Since — allowing for a high death rate — some 
10,000* men are drafted every year, it will be seen that 
the graft possibilities of the system are enormous. The 
horror of the army is used by the jefe to squeeze money 
out of wage-workers and small property-holders. Unless 
the victim is drafted for political reasons, the system 
permits the drafted person to buy another to take his 
place — provided the drafting officer is willing. This 
option on the part of the jefe is used as a great money- 


getter, since the jefe is never willing unless the victim 
buys the jefe as well as the substitute. Usually it is 
not necessary to buy the substitute," but only the jefe 
politico. In some districts it is said to be a regular prac- 
tice to keep tab on the higher-paid class of wage-laborers 
and when they are paid after a long job, to drag them to 
jail and tell them that they have been drafted, then, a 
day or two later, to send word that $100, more or less, 
has been fixed as the price of their liberty. I was told 
of an instance in which a carpenter was drafted in this 
way five times in the space of three years. Four times 
he parted with his money, sums ranging from $50 to 
$100, but the fifth time he lost courage and permitted 
himself to be led away to the barracks. 

The rurales are mounted police usually selected from 
the criminal classes, well equipped and cofnparatively 
well paid, whose energies have been turned to robbing 
and killing for the government. There are federal 
rurales and state rurales, the total of the two running 
somewhere between 7,000 and 9,000. They are divided 
among the various states in about an equal propor- 
tion to the population, but are utilized most in the rural 
districts. The rurales are the special rough riders of 
the jefe politicos and they are given almost unlimited 
powers to kill at their own discretion. Investigation of 
wanton killings by rurales working singly or in squads 
is almost never made and the victim must stand well 
indeed with the government before punishment is meted 
out to the murderer. 

In Mexico it is a small town that has no soldiers or 
rurales and a smaller town that has no regular 
gendarmes. The City of Mexico has over 2,000, or twice 
as many as New York in comparison to its size, and 
the other municipalities are equipped in proportion. At 




night the gendarmes have little red lanterns which they 
set in the middle of the streets and hover near. One 
sees these lanterns, one at each corner, twinkling down 
the entire length of the principal streets. There is a 
system of lantern signals and when one lamp begins to 
swing the signal is carried along and in a trice every 
gendarme on the street knows what has happened. 

While the *'plain clothes" department of the Mexican 
police is a comparatively insignificant affair, there ex- 
ists, outside of and beyond it, a system of secret police 
on a very extensive scale. An American newspaper- 
man employed on an English daily of the capital once 
told me : "There are twice as many secret police as reg- 
ular police. You see a uniformed policeman standing 
in the middle of the street. That is all you see, or at 
least all you notice. But leaning against the wall of 
that alley entrance is a man whom you take to be a 
loafer; over on the other side lounges a man whom you 
think is a peon. Just start something and then try to 
get away. Both of those men will be after you. There 
is no getting away in Mexico; every alley is guarded 
as well as every street! 

"Why," said he, "they know your business as well as 
you do yourself. They talk with you and you never sus- 
pect. When you cross the border they take your name 
and business and address, and before you've reached the 
capital they know whether you've told the truth or not. 
They know what you're here for and have decided what 
they're going to do about it." 

Perhaps this man overstated the case — the exact truth 
of these matters is hard to get at — but I know that it 
is impossible to convince the average Mexican that the 
secret police system of his country is not a colossal in- 


The acordada is an organization of secret assassins, 
a sort of secret police, attached to the government of 
each of the Mexican states. It consists of a jefe de 
acordada and anywhere from a half dozen to a half hun- 
dred subordinates. Personal enemies of the governor 
or of the jefes politic os, political suspects and highway- 
men or others suspected of crime but against whom 
there is no evidence, are frequently put out of the way 
by the acordada. The names of the marked men are 
furnished by the officials and the members of the so- 
ciety are sent about the state with orders to kill quietly 
and without noise. Two notable cases where the acordada 
are reported as having killed extensively are those of 
the days following the strikes at Cananea and Rio 
Blanco. Personally I am acquainted with a Mexican 
whose brother was killed by the acordada for doing no 
more than shouting "Viva Ricardo Flores Magon." I 
know also of a son of a general high up in the councils of 
the Mexican government who became a suh-jefe de 
acordada in the state of Coahuila. He was a wild young 
fellow who had been put out of the army for acts of in- 
subordination toward a superior officer. But his father 
was a friend of Diaz and Diaz himself appointed the 
youth to the acordada job, which paid a salary of three 
hundred pesos a month. This man was given two assist- 
ants and was sent out with orders to "kill quietly along 
the border" any and all persons whom he might suspect 
of connection with the Liberal Party. No check what- 
ever was placed upon him. He was to kill at his own 

The acordada at times work extensively even in the 
Mexican capital, which more nearly approaches the 
modern in its police methods than probably any other 


city in the country. Before the Liberal rebellion of 1906 
the government, through spies, secured the detailed 
plans of the rebels, as well as the names of hundreds 
of the participants, and a large number of these were 
killed. What was done by the acordada in Mexico City 
at that time may be guessed by a statement made to me 
by a well known newspaperman of Mexico City. Said 
he: "I have it from the most reliable source that dur- 
ing the week preceding September 16 not less than 2,000 
suspects were made away with quietly by the secret po- 
lice and special deputies — the acordada — so quietly that 
not a line in regard to it has ever been published to this 

I hesitate to print this statement because it is too co- 
lossal for me to believe, and I do not expect the reader 
to believe it. But I have no doubt whatever that it 
was partially true; that, say, several score were killed 
at this time and in this way. Liberals whom I have 
met have often spoken to me of friends who had sud- 
denly disappeared and never been heard of again and 
many of these were supposed to have been done away 
with by the acordada. 

The Ley Fuga, or law of flight, is a method of killing 
resorted to by all branches of the Mexican police power. 
It was originated by order of General Diaz, who de- 
creed that his police might shoot any prisoners who 
should try to escape while under guard. While it may 
not have originated for that purpose, this rule came to 
be used as one of the means of putting to death persons 
against whom the government had not the shadow of 
another excuse for killing. The marked man is simply 
arrested, taken to a lonely spot and there shot. The 
matter is kept quiet, if possible, but if a situation should 
arise that demands an explanation, the report is given 


out that the victim had attempted to escape and had 
brought his fate upon himself. Thus it is freely as- 
serted that thousands of lives have been taken during 
the past thirty-four years. Today instances of the Ley 
Fuga are frequently reported in the Mexican press. 

Many political outlaws end their days in prison. 
Among the Mexican prisons there are two whose hor- 
rors stand out far above the others — San Juan de Ulua 
and Belem. 

During both of my trips to Mexico made during 1908 
and 1909 I put forth desperate efforts to secure admis- 
sion as a visitor to Belem. I saw the governor of the 
Federal District; I saw the American ambassador; I 
tried to enter with a prison physician. But I was never 
able to travel farther than the inner door. 

Through that door I could see into the central court, 
where ranged hundreds of human beings made wild 
beasts by the treatment they received, ragged, filthy, 
starving, wolfish wrecks of men — a sight calculated to 
provoke a raucous laugh at the solemn declarations of 
certain individuals that Mexico has a civilized govern- 

But farther than that inner court I could not go. I 
was permitted to visit other prisons in Mexico, but not 
Belem. When I pressed His Excellency, the Governor, 
he admitted that it was not safe. "On account of the 
malas condiciones, the vile conditions," he said, "it 
would not do. Why," he told me, "only a short time ago 
the vice-president, Senor Corral, dared to make a hurried 
visit to Belem. He contracted typhus and nearly died. 
You cannot go." 

I told him that I had heard of Americans being per- 
mitted to visit Belem. But he was unable to remember. 
Doubtless those other Americans were too well known 


— they were too much involved in Mexican affairs — to 
leave any danger of their coming out and telling the 
truth of what they saw. My credentials were not sat- 
isfactory enough to permit me to see Belem. 

But I know Belem fairly well, I think, for I have 
talked with persons who have seen Belem as prisoners 
and come out of its horrors alive. Editors, many of 
them were; and I have talked with others — officials, 
prison physicians, and I have read the newspapers of 

Suffice it, however, to put down some bare and naked 
facts. Belem is the general prison for the Federal Dis- 
trict, which comprises the Mexican capital and some 
surrounding suburbs, approximating, in all, a popula- 
tion of 600,000 people. It is alike city jail, county jail 
and penitentiary, except that there is also in the district 
another penitentiary, which is distinguished from Belem 
by confining within its walls only criminals who have 
been sentenced to more than eight years confinement. 
The penitentiary — which is so designated — is a modern 
institution, decently built and sewered. The prisoners 
are few and they are fairly well fed. Visitors are al- 
ways welcome at the penitentiary, for it is principally 
for show. When you hear a traveler extolling the 
prison system of Mexico put it down that he was con- 
ducted through the Federal District penitentiary only 
— that he does not know of Belem. 

Belem is a musty old convent which was turned into 
a prison by the simple act of herding some thousands 
of person within its walls. It is not large enough de- 
cently to house five hundred inmates, but frequently 
it houses more than five thousand. These five thou- 
sand are given a daily ration of biscuit and beans in- 
sufficient in quantity to keep an ordinary person alive fof 


many weeks. The insufficiency of this ration is so well 
realized by the prison officials that a regular system of 
feeding from the outside has grown up. Daily the 
friends and relatives of prisoners bring them baskets of 
food, in order that they may live through their term of 
confinement. Of course it is a terrible drain on the 
poor, but the system serves its purpose — except for 
those hundreds of unfortunates who have no friends on 
the outside. These starve to death without a finger be- 
ing raised to help them. 

"Within three days after entering Belem," a Mexican 
prison physician informed me, "every inmate contracts 
a skin disease, a terrible itch which sets the body on fire. 
This disease is entirely the result of the filthy condi- 
tions of the place. Every year," he continued, "the 
prison goes through an epidemic of typhus, which kills 
an average of at least ten per cent of the inmates. 
Within Belem there is no system of order among the 
prisoners. The weak are at the mercy of the strong. 
Immediately you enter as a prisoner you are set upon 
by a horde of half -crazed men who tear the clothes 
from your back, take away your valuables, if you have 
any, and usually commit nameless crimes upon your 
person, while officials of the prison stand grinning by. 
The only way to save yourself in Belem is to turn wild 
beast like the rest, and even then you must be strong — 
very strong." 

Should I give the name of this physician every official 
at the national capital would instantly recognize him as 
a man of high standing with the government. I shall 
not name him only because if I did he also would go to 
Belem as a prisoner. Such stories as his I heard- from 
too many widely different sources to be able to doubt 
them. The stories of the Belem epidemics always get 


more or less into the Mexican papers. I remember that 
during my first visit to Mexico, in the fall of 1908, the 
papers reported an epidemic of typhus. For the first 
three days the number of new cases were daily recorded, 
but after that the news was suppressed. The condition 
threatened to become too great a scandal, for on the 
third day there were 176 new cases ! 

According to an old prison director whom I inter- 
viewed, at least twenty per cent of the prisoners at 
Belem contract tuberculosis. This prison director spent 
many years in the prison at Puebla. There, he says, 
seventy-five per cent of the men who go into the place 
come out, if they ever come out, with tuberculosis. 

Torture such as was employed in the Middle Ages 
is used in Belem to secure confessions. When a man 
is taken to the police station, if he is suspected of a 
felony he is strung up by the thumbs until he tells. 
Another method used is that of refusing the prisoner 
drink. He is given food but no water until he 
chokes. Ofter prisoners declare before the judge that 
they have been tortured into confession, but no inves- 
tigation is made. There are — inevitably — records of 
innocent men who have confessed to murder in order 
to escape the torture of the thumbs or of the thirst. 
While I was in Mexico two Americans suspected of rob- 
bery were reported in the newspapers as having been 
arrested, their wrists strapped to the bars of their cells, 
and their finger nails jerked out with steel pincers. 
This incident was reported to our State Department, 
but no action was taken. 

San Juan de Ulua is an old military fortress situated 
in the harbor of Veracruz — a fortress which has been 
turned into a prison. Officially San Juan de Ulua is 
known as a military prison, but in fact it is a political 


prison, a prison for political suspects, and so choice is 
the company that resides therein — resides, but is ever 
changing, for the members die fast — and so personal 
is the attention given to this place by President Diaz, 
that throughout Mexico San Juan de Ulua is popularly 
known as the "private prison of Diaz.*' 

San Juan de Ulua is built of cement, the prison cells 
are under the sea and the salt water seeps through upon 
the prisoners, some of whom lie, half-naked and half- 
starved, in dark dungeons too small to permit of a full 
grown man lying down in comfort. To San Juan de 
Ulua was sent Juan Sarabia, vice-president of the Lib- 
eral Party, Margarita Martinez, a leader of the strike 
at Rio Blanco, Lazaro Puente, Carlos Humbert, Abra- 
ham Salcido, Leonardo Villarreal, Bruno Trevino and 
Gabriel Rubio, a sextet of gentlemen handed over to 
Mexico by the United States government at the request 
of the former as "undesirable immigrants;" Caesar Ca- 
nales, Juan de la Torre, Serrano, Ugalde, Marquez, and 
scores of other leaders of the Liberal movement. Since 
entering those grey walls few of these men or women 
have ever been heard of again. It is not known whether 
they are dead or alive, whether they were shot beyond 
the walls, whether they died of disease and starvation 
or whether they are still eking out a miserable existence 
there, hoping against hope that a freer government will 
come and set them free. They have never been heard 
of because no political prisoner in San Juan de Ulua 
is ever permitted to communicate in any way with his 
friends or with the outside world. They cross the har- 
bor in a little boat, they disappear within the grey walls 
and that is all. Their friends never learn how they get 
on, nor when they die or how. 

Of the official assassms of Mexico the jefe politico is 


the arch fiend. The jefe politico commands the local 
police and rurales, directs the acordada and frequently 
gives orders to the regular troops. While, because of 
government control of the press, comparatively few 
crimes of the jefes politicos become public, yet during 
my most recent visit to Mexico — during the winter and 
spring of 1909 — two wholesale killings which were 
prompted by jefes politicos were widely reported in the 
newspapers of that country. One was that of Tehuit- 
zingo, where sixteen citizens were executed without 
trial, and the other was that of Velardena, where, for 
holding a street parade in defiance of the jefe politico, 
several were shot down in the streets and a number vari- 
ously estimated as from twelve to thirty-two were ar- 
rested, lined up and shot, and buried in trenches which 
they had been compelled to dig previously with their 
own hands. 

A comment of El Pais, a conservative Catholic daily 
of the capital on the Tehuitzingo affair, published in 
April, was as follows: 

"Terrible accounts have reached this capital as to what is 
taking place at Tehuitzingo, District of Acatlan, State of Puebla. 
It is insistently reported that sixteen citizens have been executed 
without trial and that many others will be condemned to twenty 
years' confinement in the fortress of San Juan de Ulua. 

"What are the causes that have given rise to this barbarous 
persecution, which has dyed our soil anew with the people's 

"It is the fierce, infamous caciquismo which oppresses the 
people with a heavy yoke and which has deprived them of all 
the benefits of peace. 

"We ask, in the name of law and of humanity that this 
hecatomb cease; we ask that the guilty parties be tried fairly 
and calmly according to the law. But among those guilty 
parties should be included those who provoked the disturbance, 
those who drove the people to frenzy by trampling their rights. 


If the jefe politico sought to defy the law by dictating an elec- 
tion, he is guilty or more guilty than the rioters and ought to 
be made to appear with them before the authorities to answer 
for his acts." 

This is about as violent an outburst as is ever per- 
mitted to appear in a Mexican publication, and there are 
few papers that would dare go this far. Had El Pais 
wished to charge the guilt to General Diaz as the founder 
and perpetuator of the little czardom of the jefes polit- 
icos, it would not have dared to do so, for in Mexico 
the king can do no wrong ; there is no publication in the 
country so strong that it would not be suppressed at 
once did it directly criticize the head of the government. 
The comment of El Tiempo, another leading conserva- 
tive daily of the capital, on the Velardena massacre, 
which appeared also in April, was : 

"These irregular executions are a cause of profound dissatis- 
faction and ought to be put a stop to at once for the sake of the 
prestige of the authorities; and in order to attain that end it is 
necessary that the authors of such outrages should be severely 
chastised, as we hope that those who are responsible for the 
sanguinary scenes that have been witnessed at Velardena, and 
which have occasioned so much horror and indignation through- 
out the republic, will be. 

"Let it not be said that Velardena is an isolated case without 
precedents. Only to mention a few of the cases that are fresh 
in the public memory, theer is the Papantla affair, the affair at 
Acayucan, the shootings at Orizaba at the time of the strike, the 
shootings at Colima, of which the press has been talking just of 
late, and the frequent application of the ley fuga, of which the 
most recent instance occurred at Calimaya, Tenango, State of 

In closing this chapter perhaps I can do no better than 
to quote an item which appeared in The Mexican Her- 
ald, the leading daily published in English, February 15, 
1910. Though the facts were perfectly well authenti- 


cated, the Herald dared to print the story only on the 
authority of another paper, and it presented the matter in 
such mild and cautious terms that it will require a care- 
ful reading to bring out the full horror of the deed. 
Here is the item: 

"The Pais gives the following story, the details of which it 
qualifies as too monstrous for even Zelaya to attribute to Estrada 
Cabrera : 

"Luis Villasenor, prefect of Cualcoman, Michoacan, recently 
shot without trial an old man because his son committed a 
murder. The victim in this case was Ignacio Chavez Guizar, 
one of the principal merchants of the place. 

"Some days ago a member of the rural police (a rurale) 
arrived at the house of the deceased in a state of intoxication 
and began to insult and abuse the family. A quarrel succeeded, 
in which the policeman was shot by Jose Chavez. 

"The prefect of police arrived on the scene of the trouble and 
arrested the father and another son, Benjamin, the slayer hav- 
ing made his escape, and took them to the police station. That 
was the last seen of them. Soon the people of the town began 
to inquire what had happened to them. The story was spread 
that they had escaped from prison. But a relative, a nephew 
of the deceased father, having a certain suspicion that this 
story was not true, opened what appeared to him a recently 
made grave, near the police station, and there found the corpses 
of the two men who had been recently arrested. The prefect, 
not having been able to capture Jose or to learn where he was, 
had made the father and brother suffer for his crime. 

"Commenting on this story, the Pais calls for the punishment 
of the author and the guarantee of the carrying out of the 
laws of the country." 



Men and women on our continent are daily suffer- 
ing death, imprisonment or exile for contending for 
those political rights which we have considered as ours 
since the birth of our country, rights of free speech, 
of free press, the right of assembly, the right to vote 
to decide who shall hold the political offices and govern 
the land, the right to be secure in person and property. 
For these things hundreds of men and women have 
died within the past twelve months, tens of thousands 
within the past thirty years, in a country divided from 
ours only by a shallow river and an imaginary geo- 
graphical line. 

In Mexico today are being lived life stories such as 
carry one's imagination back to the days of the French 
Revolution and the times when constitutional govern- 
ment, that giant which was destined to complete the 
change from the Middle Ages to Modernity, was being 
born. In those days men yielded up their lives for 
republicanism. Men are doing the same today in Mex- 
ico. The repressive part of the Diaz governmental ma- 
chine which I described in the last previous chapter 
— the army, the rurales, the ordinary police, the secret 
police, the acordada — are perhaps one-fifth for protec- 
tion against common criminals and four-fifths for the 
suppression of democratic movements among the peo- 
ple. The deadly certainty of this repressive machine 



of Diaz is probably not equaled anywhere in the world, 
not even in Russia. I remember a trusted Mexican 
official once summing up to me the feeling of the Mex- 
ican people, taught them by experience, on this thing. 
Said he: "It is possible that a murderer may escape 
the police here, that a highwayman may get away, but 
a political offender never — it is not possible for one 
to escape!" 

I myself have observed numerous instances of the 
deadly fear in which the secret police and the govern- 
ment assassin are held even by those who would seem 
to have no cause for fear. Notable among these is the 
panic which overtook the family of a friend with whom 
I was staying — his brother, sister, sister-in-law and 
nephew and niece — when the secret police surrounded 
their house in the capital and waited for my friend to 
come out. They were middle-class Mexicans of the 
most intelligent sort, this family, very well known and 
highly respected, and yet their fright was pitiful. Now 
they dashed this way and that, now to a window and 
now to a door, wringing their hands. Now they huddled 
together, verbally painting the dire calamities that were 
sure to descend not only upon the hunted one, but upon 
their own heads because he had been found with them. 
My friend had committed no crime. He had not been 
identified with the revolutionists, he had merely ex- 
pressed sympathy for them, and yet his family could 
see nothing but death for him. And after the fugitive 
had escaped by jumping through a window and climbing 
over house-tops, the head of the family, speaking of 
his own danger, said to me: "I myself may go to jail 
for a time while they try to compel me to tell where 
my brother is hiding. If I do not go it will be only 
because the government has decided to respect me for 


my position and my influential friends, yet hourly I am 
expecting the tap on the arm that will tell me to go." 

The case of most extreme fear which I observed was 
that of a wealthy and beautiful woman, wife of an offi- 
cial of the Rio Blanco mills, with whom De Lara and 
I took dinner one day. The official drank deeply of 
wine, and as the meal was near an end his tongue 
loosened and he spoke of matters which, for the sake 
of his own safety, he should have guarded. The wife 
sat opposite him, and as he spoke of government mur- 
ders of which he knew her face blanched and with her 
eyes she tried to warn him to be more careful. Finally 
I turned my face away, and, glancing sidewise, saw her 
take the opportunity to bend forward over the table 
and shake a trembling, jeweled finger in his face. Again 
and again she tried skilfully to turn the conversation, 
but without success, until finally, unable to control her- 
self longer, she sprang forward, and, clapping a hand 
over her husband's lips, tried to dam back the fearsome 
words he was saying. The animal terror on that wom- 
an's face I can never forget. 

Fear so widespread and so extreme as I met with 
cannot be the result of imagined dangers. There must 
be something behind it, and there is. Secret killing 
is constantly going on in Mexico, but to what extent 
no one will ever know. It is asserted in some quarters 
that there are more political executions going on right 
now than ever before, but that they are more cleverly 
and secretly done than ever before. Whether that is 
true or not I do not know. Certainly the press is better 
controlled than ever before. The apparent quiescence 
of Mexico is entirely forced by means of club, pistol and 

Mexico has never really enjoyed political freedom. 


The country has merely had the promise of it. How- 
ever, the promise has undoubtedly helped to keep patri- 
otic Mexicans fighting for a fulfillment, however great 
the odds against them. When Porfirio Diaz captured 
the Mexican government in 1876 the Mexican battle 
for political freedom seemed won. The last foreign 
soldier had been driven out of the country, the throt- 
tling grip of the church on the state had been broken, 
the country had inaugurated a system of universal suf- 
frage, it had adopted a constitution much like that of 
the United States, and finally, its president, one of the 
authors of the constitution, Lerdo de Tejada, was in 
the act of putting that constitution in operation. The 
personal revolution of General Porfirio Diaz, made suc- 
cessful by force of arms only after it had failed twice, 
put a sudden stop to the progressive movement, and ever 
since that time the country has gone back politically, 
year by year. If it were humanly possibly to put a 
stop to the movement for democracy in a country by 
killing the leaders and persecuting all connected with it, 
democracy would long ago have been killed in Mexico, 
for the leaders of every political movement in opposi- 
tion to President Diaz, however peaceful their methods, 
however worthy their cause, have either been put to 
death, imprisoned or hunted out of the country. And 
as I shall show in the next chapter, this statement is 
literally true down to the present day. 

Briefly I will sketch some of the more important of 
these opposition movements. The first occurred toward 
the close of President Diaz's first term in office and was 
a movement having for its purpose the re-election of 
Lerdo, who, upon Diaz's capture of the power, had fled 
to the United States. The movement had not time to 
gain any headway and come out in the open before 


it was crushed in the most summary manner. The 
leaders were considered as conspirators and were treated 
as if they were guilty of treasonable acts — worse, in 
fact, for they were not even given a semblance of a 
trial. On a night in June, 1879, nine men, prominent 
citizens of Veracruz, were dragged from their beds, 
and on an order telegraphed from General Diaz, ''Mata- 
los en caliente/' "Kill them in haste," Governor Mier 
y Teran had them lined up against a wall and shot to 

While this incident happened thirty years ago, it is 
perfectly authenticated, and the widow of General Teran 
exhibits to this day the yellow paper upon which are 
inscribed the fatal words. The killing is now known as 
the Massacre of Veracruz and is noted because of the 
prominence of the victims rather than for the number 
of those who lost their lives. 

During the ten years following the Massacre of Vera- 
cruz two Mexicans aspired at different times to oppose 
Diaz for the presidency. One of these was General 
Ramon Corona, governor of Jalisco, and the other was 
General Garcia de la Cadena, ex-governor of Zacatecas. 
Neither lived to see ^'election day." While on his way 
home from a theatre one night Corona was stabbed to 
death by an assassin, who was in turn stabbed to death 
by a company of police which, by a strange coincidence, 
was waiting for him around a near corner. Cadena heard 
that assassins were on his trail and took flight. He tried 
to reach the United States, but was caught at Zacatecas 
and shot to death, being pierced by many bullets from 
the pistols of thugs, all of whom escaped. No one can 
prove who ordered the killing of Corona and Cadena, 
but it is easy to draw conclusions. 

In 1891 Mexico was thrown into a ferment by the 

A Typical Mexican Military Execution. 




announcement of Diaz that he had decided to continue 
in power for still another term, a fourth one. An 
attempt was made to organize a movement in opposi- 
tion, but it was beaten down by clubs and guns. Ricardo 
Flores Magon, the political refugee, took a student's 
part in this movement and was one of the many who 
suffered imprisonment for it. The choice of the oppo- 
sition for presidency was Dr. Ignacio Martinez. Dr. 
Martinez was compelled to flee the country, and after 
a period spent in Europe he settled in Laredo, Texas, 
where he edited a newspaper in opposition to President 
Diaz. One evening Dr. Martinez was waylaid and shot 
down by a horseman who immediately afterwards 
crossed into Mexico and was seen to enter army bar- 
racks on the other side. It is a pretty well authenticated 
fact that on the night of the assassination the governor 
of the state of Nuevo Leon, who was at that time recog- 
nized as Diaz's right-hand man in the border states, 
received a telegram saying: "Your order obeyed." 

The only movement which Diaz ever permitted to 
gain much headway in the matter of organization was 
the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party sprang into birth 
in the fall of 1900, after all danger of effective opposi- 
tion against the dictator's entering upon a sixth term 
had been obviated. A speech delivered in Paris by the 
Bishop of San Luis Potosi, in which the priest declared 
that, in spite of the constitution and the laws of Mexico, 
the church in that country was in a most flourishing and 
satisfactory condition, was the immediate cause of the 
organization. Mexicans of all classes saw greater danger 
to the national welfare in the renascence of a church heir- 
archy than they did even in a dictatorship by a single 
individual, for death must some day end the rule of 
the man, while the life of the church is endless. They 


therefore once more took their lives in their hands and 
attempted to launch still another movement for the 
restoration of the republic. 

In less than five months after the bishop's speech 
125 Liberal clubs had arisen in all parts of the country, 
a half hundred newspapers were started, and a call was 
issued for a convention to be held in the city of San 
Luis Potosi on January 5, 1901. 

The congress was held in the famous Teatro de la Paz, 
It was jammed with delegates and spectators, among 
the latter being many soldiers and gendarmes, while 
in the street below a battalion of soldiers was drawn 
up, ready to deal with the assembly should its voice 
be raised against the dictator. 

Anything so radical as an armed rebellion was not 
spoken of, however, and the various speakers steered 
carefully away from any direct criticism of President 
Diaz. On the other hand, resolutions were adopted 
pledging the Liberals to pursue the campaign of reform 
only by peaceful means. 

Nevertheless, as soon as it became evident that the 
Liberals were planning to nominate a candidate for 
the presidency, three years later, the government began 
operations. By Russian police methods, the clubs all 
over the country were broken up and the leading mem- 
bers were arrested on fictitious charges, imprisoned or 
forced into the army. A typical case was that of the 
club "Ponciano Arriaga," of San Luis Potosi, which 
formed the national center of the federation. On Janu- 
ary 24, 1902, although other clubs had been violently 
broken up for doing so, "Ponciano Arriaga" made bold 
to hold a public meeting. Here and there among the 
people were distributed soldiers and gendarmes in citi- 
zens* clothing, under the command of a prominent law- 


yer and congressman, an agent provocateur, who had 
been commissioned by the government to destroy the 

At a given moment, according to Librado Rivera, 
who was vice-secretary of the club, the agent provocateur 
jumped to his feet to protest against the work of the 
club, and at the signal the disguised soldiers and gend- 
armes feigned to join in the protest, smashing the chairs 
to pieces against the floor. Their leader fired some 
shots into the air, but the genuine audience and the mem- 
bers of the club did not make the least move lest they 
give some pretext for an attack, for they knew that 
the agent provocateur and his assistants were but stag- 
ing a comedy in order to invite violence to themselves 
from some members of the club. Nevertheless, hardly 
were the shots fired when a crowd of policemen in- 
vaded the hall, striking right and left with their clubs. 
Camilo Arriaga, president of the club; Juan Sarabia, 
secretary; Professor Librado Rivera, vice-secretary, as 
well as twenty-five other members, were arrested and 
accused of fictitious crimes, such as resisting the police, 
sedition, and so on. The result was that they were all 
imprisoned for nearly a year and the club was dissolved. 

Thus were dissolved the majority of the other clubs 
in the Liberal federation. The Liberal newspapers, pub- 
lic spokesmen of the clubs, were put out of business by 
the imprisonment of their editors and the destruction 
or confiscation of the printing plants. How many men 
and women lost their lives in the hunt of the Liberals 
which extended over the succeeding years will never be 
known. The jails, penitentiaries and military prisons 
were filled with them, thousands were impressed into 
the army and sent away to death in far Quintana Roo, 
wnile the ley fuga was called into requisition to get rid 


of men whom the government did not dare to execute 
openly and without excuse. In the prisons tortures such 
as would almost shame the Spanish Inquisition were 
resorted to 

Upon the organization of the Liberal Party some fifty 
newspapers sprang up to support it in different parts 
of the country. Every one of them was suppressed by 
the police. Ricardo Flores Magon once showed me a 
list of more than fifty newspapers that were suppressed 
and a list of more than a hundred editors that were 
jailed during the time he was struggling to publish a 
paper in Mexico. In his book Fornaro gives a list of 
thirty-nine newspapers that were persecuted or sub- 
jected to trial on trivial excuses in the year 1902 for 
the purpose of providing against any public agitation 
against a seventh term for President Diaz. During 
1908 there were at least six outright suppressions, the 
newspapers to be put out of business being "El Piloto," 
a daily of Monterey ; "La Humanidad" and "La Tierra," 
two weeklies of Yucatan; "El Tecolote," of Aguasca- 
lientes, and two of Guanajuato, "El Barretero" and "El 
Hijo del Pueblo." During the period while I was in 
Mexico at least two foreign newspaper men were de- 
ported for criticizing the government, two Spaniards, 
Ross y Planas and Antonio Duch, editors of the paper 
"La Tierra," in Merida. Finally, in 1909 and 1910 
the story of the suppression of the Liberal Party and 
its press was repeated in the suppression of the Demo- 
cratic Party and its press — ^but I must reserve that for 
another chapter. 

During the Liberal agitation many of the best-known 
writers of Mexico fell by the assassin's hand. Among 
them were Jesus Valades of Mazatlan, Sinaloa. Hav- 
ing written articles against the despotism, while walk- 


ing home from the theatre one night with his newly 
wedded wife he was set upon by several men, who 
killed him with daggers. In Tampico in 1902 Vincente 
Rivero Echeagarey, a newspaper man, dared to criti- 
cize the acts of the president. He was shot down at 
night while in the act of opening his own door. Jesus 
Olmos y Contreras, a newspaper man of the state of 
Puebla, about the same time published articles expos- 
ing an alleged licentious act of Governor Martinez. Two 
friends of the governor invited Contreras to supper. 
In the street the three walked arm in arm, the writer 
in the middle. Suddenly thugs fell upon him from be- 
hind. The false friends held Contreras tight until he 
had been struck down, when a heavy rock was used 
to beat the head of the victim into a pulp so that his 
identification might be impossible. 

In Merida, Yucatan, in December, 1905, the writer, 
Abalardo Ancona, protested against the "re-election" 
of Governor Olegario Molina. Ancona was thrown into 
jail, where he was shot and stabbed to death. * 

In 1907 the writer, Augustin y Tovao, died of poison 
administered in Belem prison. Jesus Martinez Carrion, 
a noted newspaper artist, and Alberto Arans, a writer, 
left Belem to die in a hospital. Dr. Juan de la Pena, 
editor of a Liberal newspaper, died in the military prison 
of San Juan de Ulua. Juan Sarabia, another well- 
known editor, was also imprisoned there and for a long 
time was supposed to be dead, until recently, when his 
friends got word of him. Daniel Cabrera, one of the 
oldest Liberal editors, was a cripple, and many times he 
was carried to jail on a stretcher. 

Professor Luis Toro, an editor of San Luis Potosi, 
was imprisoned and beaten in prison so severely that he 
died. In the same prison Primo Feliciano Velasquez^ 


a lawyer and publisher of "El Estandarte," was beaten 
so severely that he became a life-long cripple. Another 
attorney and editor, Francisco de P. Morelos, was beaten 
in the city of Monterey for writing against the govern- 
ment in his paper, "La Defensa." In Guanajuato, Jose 
R. Granados, editor of "El Barretero," was beaten for 
writing against the government. In Napimi, a lawyer, 
Francisco A. Luna, was beaten and wounded with knives 
for writing against the government. 

And so a list could be given pages long. Ricardo 
Flores Magon, Jesus Magon, Enrique Magon, Antonio 
J. Villarreal, Librado Rivera, Manuel Sarabia and 
many others spent months in prison for publishing oppo- 
sition papers. Others were assassinated. As I said 
before, autocracy feeds on murder, and the rule of 
Porfirio Diaz has been one long story of murder. When 
assassination, imprisonment and countless forms of per- 
secution had destroyed their organization in Mexico, the 
leaders who still retained their lives and liberty fled 
to the United States and established their headquarters 
here. They organized the Junta, or governing board 
of the Party, established newspapers, and it was only 
after the agents of the home government had followed 
them here and succeeded in so harassing them with 
false charges which resulted in their imprisonment that 
they abandoned all hope of doing anything peaceful for 
the regeneration of their country and decided to organ- 
ize an armed force for the purpose of overthrowing the 
[Mexican dictator. 

The story of the persecutions visited upon the Mex- 
ican refugees in the United States I will detail in an- 
other chapter. It is sufficient here to pass over them 
and point merely to the result of their attempts to bring 
about a change in their government by revolution. 


Briefly, the Liberal Party has launched two armed 
revolutions against Diaz. Both of these have come to 
grief at an early stage; first, because of the efficiency 
of the government in putting spies in the midst of the 
revolutionists and thus being able to anticipate them; 
second, because of the severe methods used in repres- 
sion; and, third, because of the effective co-operation 
of the United States government, since the uprisings 
were necessarily directed from this side of the line. 

The first Liberal attempt at revolution was to have 
been launched in September, 1906. The rebels claim 
to have had thirty-six military groups partially armed 
within Mexico and ready to rise at one signal. They 
expected that at the first show of strength on their 
part the army would desert to their standard and that 
the civilians would receive them with open arms. 

Whether they judged the army and the people cor- 
rectly will never be known, for they never succeeded 
in making any great show of strength. Government 
spies betrayed the various groups, and when the ap- 
pointed hour struck the majority of the leaders were 
already dead or domiciled in San Juan de Ulua. The 
revolution was to begin on the national independence 
day, September 16, and the way the government pre- 
pared for it generally may be imagined from the report 
which I previously quoted of the large number of secret 
killings in Diaz's capital. 

Liberal groups in two cities succeeded in making a 
start. One group captured the town of Jiminez, 
Coahuila, and another laid siege to the army barracks 
at Acayucan, state of Veracruz. Civilians joined them 
in these two cities, and for a day they enjoyed partial 
success. Then trainloads of troops got into each town, 
and in a few days what was left of the rebel force was 


on its way to prison. The concentration of troops into 
those towns was nothing short of wonderful. As before 
stated, though Acayucan is comparatively isolated, 4,000 
regular soldiers reached the scene within twenty-four 
hours after hostilities began. 

The second rebellion was scheduled to come off in 
July, 1908. This time the Liberals claimed to have 
forty-six military groups ready to rise in Mexico. But, 
as it turned out, nearly all the fighting was done by 
Mexican refugees, who recrossed from the United States 
at Del Rio, Texas, and other border centers, armed with 
guns purchased here. The Liberal leaders here claim 
that every military group in Mexico was anticipated 
by the government and the members arrested before 
the appointed hour. This certainly occurred at Casas 
Grandes, Chihuahua, and the affair, being given much 
publicity, caused the groups from the United States to 
act prematurely. It is also claimed that some of the 
strongest groups were betrayed by a criminal who, be- 
cause of his facial resemblance to Antonio J. Villarreal, 
secretary of the Liberal Junta, was freed from the 
Torreon jail and pardoned by the authorities on condi- 
tion that he go among the revolutionists, pass himself 
off as Villarreal and betray them. I personally know 
of two cases in which emissaries who left the Liberal 
headquarters in the United States carrying orders for 
the rising of certain groups fell into the clutches of the 
government soon after they crossed the line. 

Nevertheless, the rebellion of June, 1908, profoundly 
shook Mexico for a time. The fighting in Coahuila fur- 
nished the American press with a week's sensation, 
and it was a month before the last of the rebels had 
been hunted down and shot by the superior forces of 
soldiers and rurales. 


Such was the "RebelHon of Las Vacas," as it has come 
to be known both in the United States and Mexico. As 
a result of this rebelHon and the previous one, the Mex- 
ican agents in the United States at last succeeded in 
breaking up the Liberal organization here almost as 
effectively as it was broken up in Mexico. Up to the 
time of the Congressional hearing on the persecutions 
in June, 1910, all the Liberal leaders in the United States 
were either in prison or in hiding, and no Mexican dared 
openly espouse the cause of the Liberal Party for fear 
that he, too, might be thrown behind the bars on a 
charge of having been in some way connected with one 
of those rebellions. 



In order that the reader may entirely appreciate the 
fact that the poHtical reign of terror established by Diaz 
thirty-four years ago continues in full bloom to the 
present day I shall devote this chapter to a record of 
the presidential campaign, so called, which ended June 
26, 1910, with the eighth "unanimous election" of Presi- 
dent Diaz. 

To the end that the authenticity of this record may be 
beyond question, I have excluded from it all informa- 
tion that has come to me by means of rumor, gossip, 
letters and personal reports — everything except what has 
already been printed in newspapers as common news. 
In hardly an instance, moreover, was one of these news- 
papers opposed to the regime of General Diaz; nearly 
all were favorable to him. Therefore, if there are any 
errors in these reports, it is safe to assume that the truth 
has been minimized rather than overstated. It is safe 
to assume, also, that since the newspapers from which 
the reports were taken are published in Mexico where 
they are under the censorship of the police, that numer- 
ous other incidents of a similar, as well as of a worse, 
character, occurred which were never permitted to 
appear in print. 

Before proceeding to these records I may be pardoned 
for restating the fact that President Diaz has held his 
position at the head of the Mexican government for 
more than a generation. In the latter part of 1876, 
nearly thirty-four years ago, heading a personal revolu- 
tion, he led an army into the Mexican capital and pro- 



claimed himself provisional president. Soon afterwards, 
he held what is called an election, and announced that 
the people had chosen him constitutional president — 
unanimously. In 1880 he turned the government over 
to a friend, Manuel Gonzalez, who was also elected 
unanimously. In 1884 Gonzalez reinstalled Diaz after 
a third unanimous election. Following 1884 Diaz was 
re-elected unanimously every four years for twenty 
years, until 1904, when the presidential term was length- 
ened to six years, and for the seventh time he was 
elected unanimously. Finally, July 10, 1910, Diaz was 
unanimously elected president of Mexico for the eighth 

The Mexican presidential campaign just closed, if I 
may so denominate it, properly dates from the month 
of March, 1908. At that time, through James Creel- 
man and Pearson's Magazine, President Diaz announced 
to the world, first, that under no circumstances would 
he consent to enter upon an eighth term, and, second, 
that he would be glad to assist in the transference of 
the governmental power from himself personally to a 
democratic organization of citizens. According to Mr. 
Creelman, his words were: 

"No matter what my friends and supporters say, I retire when 
my present term of office ends, and I shall not serve again. I 
shall be eighty years old then. 

"I have waited patiently for the day when the people of the 
Mexican Republic would be prepared to choose and change their 
government at every election without danger of armed revolu- 
tions and without injury to the national credit or interference 
with national progress. I believe that day has come. 

"I welcome an opposition party in the Mexican Republic. If 
it appears, I will regard it as a blessing, not an evil. And if it 
can develop power, not to exploit but to govern, I will stand 
by it, support it, advise it and forget myself in the successful 
inauguration of complete democratic government in the country," 


The interview was reprinted by nearly every peri- 
odical in Mexico, and it produced a profound sensation. 
It is not exaggerating to say that the entire nation, 
outside of official circles, was overjoyed by the news. 
The nation took General Diaz at his word, and immedi- 
ately there arose a lively but temperate discussion not 
only of the various possible candidates for the presi- 
dency, but also of innumerable questions relating to 
popular government. Books and pamphlets were writ- 
ten urging Diaz to immortalize himself as a second 
Washington by giving over the government to his people 
when he might very easily retain the supreme power 
until his death. 

But at the height of this discussion the word was 
passed quietly about that the president's promise to 
retire at the end of the term was not final. To show 
how thoroughly the government had public speech and 
the press under control at this time it is only necessary 
to say that at once, upon the foregoing announcement 
being made, the discussion of presidential candidates for 
1910 stopped. 

Diaz was so thoroughly entrenched in power that 
there seemed little use of opposing him directly, but 
the people remembered the other statement that he had 
made and that he had not yet retracted — that he would 
welcome an opposition movement in Mexico. The dec- 
laration that he would support an opposition movement 
seemed paradoxical, and so the bright heads of the 
progressive element were laid together to devise a move- 
ment that, while not being in direct opposition to Diaz, 
would at the same time be able to work an opening 
wedge into the log of democracy. 

The plan hit upon was to urge President Diaz to 
retain his seat and in the same voice to ask that the coun- 


try be permitted freely to choose a vice-president, so 
that in case Diaz should die during his next term his 
successor might be more or less in line with the desires 
and ambitions of the people. 

The silence with which President Diaz received the 
publication of this plan was taken for consent, where- 
upon there began a widespread agitation, an organiza- 
tion of clubs, the holding of public discussions, news- 
paper debates, all of which might very well be taken 
as proof that President Diaz was right when he declared 
the Mexican people fit at last to enjoy the blessings of a 
real republic. 

According to Mr. Barron, in an interview published 
in the New York World, within a short time no fewer 
than five hundred clubs were organized in Mexico. In 
January, 1909, these clubs held a convention in the cap- 
ital, formed a central organization known as the Cen- 
tral Democratic Club, elected officers and adopted a 
platform, the main points of which were as follows : 

Abolition of the jefes politicos and the transference of their 
power to municipal boards of aldermen. 

The extension of primary education. 

Suffrage laws to be enacted and enforced placing the franchise 
on a mixed educational and property basis. 

Greater freedom for the press. 

Stricter enforcement of the laws of reform (against monastic 
orders, etc.). 

Greater respect for human life and liberty and a more effective 
administration of justice. 

Legislation making it possible for workingmen to secure 
financial indemnity from their employers in case of accidents 
and to enable the public to sue transportation companies and 
other like corporations on the same ground. 

Agrarian laws for the encouragement of agriculture. 

The officers elected to head the new party were four 
bright young congressmen: Benito Juarez, Jr., presi- 


dent; Manuel Calero, vice-president; Diodoro Batalla, 
secretary; Jesus Urueta, treasurer. 

April 2nd the Re-electionist Club, an organization 
consisting wholly of office-holders, appointees of Diaz, 
met and duly nominated General Diaz and his vice- 
president, Ramon Corral, for re-election. Shortly after- 
wards, in accordance with its original plan, the Demo- 
cratic Party also named President Diaz for re-election. 
For vice-president it named General Bernardo Reyes, 
governor of Nuevo Leon. 

Take a look at the general situation for a moment. 
Here was a party of men, consisting of the best edu- 
cated, most intelligent and most progressive element in 
the country. Their platform shows their demands to 
have been excessively moderate. The party had sprung 
into existence through the published promise of General 
Diaz to permit it to function. In order to assure itself 
of safety at his hands, the party had placed General 
Diaz at the head of its ticket. Finally, the campaign 
which it launched was marvelously temperate and self- 
restrained. There was no call to arms. There was no 
hint of rebellion or revolution in any form. What 
criticism as was offered of existing institutions wa3 
offered with studious calmness and care. General Dia? 
was even praised. The people were asked to vote foi 
him, but — to vote for Reyes for vice-president. 

It required only a few days to develop the fact that 
in the event of an election Reyes would triumph over 
Corral by a large majority. Former enemies of Reyes 
were for him, not because they loved him, but because 
the movement behind him held out a promise of a little 
self-government for Mexico. As soon as the popularity 
of the Democratic Party became evident, despite the 


order that prevailed at its meetings, despite the temper- 
ance of its press, despite the fact that the laws were 
studiously observed, instead of supporting and advising, 
as he had promised to do, General Diaz moved to de- 
stroy it. 

Diaz's first open move against the Democratic Parly 
was to nip the propaganda for Reyes that was beginning 
in the army. This he did by banishing to remote parts 
of the country a dozen army officers who had subscribed 
themselves as favorable to the candidacy of Reyes. 

This action of Diaz has been defended on the ground 
that he had a perfect right to prohibit members of the 
army from exercising political functions. But inasmuch 
as the president of the Re-electionist Club was an officer 
in the army, inasmuch as numerous army officers engaged 
openly and actively in the Corral campaign, it would 
seem that these men were proceeded against rather be- 
cause they were for Reyes than because they were 
members of the army. 

Captain Reuben Morales, one of the punished officers, 
had accepted the vice-presidency of a Reyist club. He 
was ordered to resign from the club or to resign from 
the army. He resigned from the army, or attempted 
to do so, but his resignation was not accepted and he 
was sent away to the territory of Quintana Roo. Eight 
of the offending officers were sent to Sonora to be placed 
in the field against the Yaqui Indians. 

The banishment of the army officers took place at 
the end of May. Following close upon the incident 
came action against some Democratic leaders who occu- 
pied positions in the government. Congressmen Urueta 
and Lerdo de Tejada, Jr., and Senator Jose Lopez Por- 
tillo were among the first to be deposed from their 


Some students of the national schools of jurispru- 
dence, mines, medicine and the preparatory school of 
Mexico City, were encouraged in forming a club to 
further the candidacy of Corral. But when the students 
of the Jalisco state schools of law and medicine formed 
a club to further the candidacy of Reyes the govern- 
ment ordered them either to abandon their political 
activity or to leave school. They sent a committee to 
Diaz to appeal for fair play. But he gave them no 
satisfaction, the threat of expulsion was renewed with 
the result that so many students were expelled from 
the Jalisco schools that the schools actually closed for 
lack of pupils. 

In July, a committee of re-electionists from Mexico 
City held a public meeting in favor of Corral in the 
Delgado theatre, Guadalajara, capital of Jalisco. The 
audience, composed largely of democratic students, hissed 
one of the speakers. Whereupon companies of police, 
which had been held in readiness, were ordered to clear 
the building and square. 

This the police did after the manner of Mexico — 
with sabre, club and pistol. The figures on the killed, 
wounded and imprisoned were suppressed by the authori- 
ties, but all newspaper reports at the time agree that 
there were persons killed and wounded, as well as 
imprisoned. The highest estimate that I have seen 
placed the killed at twelve, the seriously wounded at 
thirty-five and the arrested at one thousand. Following 
the occurrence, Guadalajara was filled with state and 
national troops. General Ignacio Bravo, notorious as the 
most ruthless officer in the Mexican army, was hurried 
from Quintana Roo temporarily to replace the exist- 
ing head of the military zone; and, finally, all political 


expression of the Democrats was put down with an 
iron hand. 

Among the prominent leaders of the Democratic 
movement in Guadalajara who were made to suffer at 
this time was Ambrosio Ulloa, an engineer and lawyer, 
founder of a school for engineers, and head of the 
Corona Flour Milling Company. Ulloa happened to be 
president of the Reyes club of Guadalajara, and, on the 
theory that the club was in some way responsible for 
the so-called student riot, Ulloa, a week after the occur- 
rence, was taken to jail and imprisoned under a charge 
of "sedition." 

During the putting down of the student movement 
in Guadalajara at least one case of the ley fuga was 
reported from that city. The victim was William de la 
Pena, a former student of Christian Brothers' College, 
St. Louis, Mo., also of the Ohio State University. The 
case was reported in the St. Louis papers, from which 
place a dispatch was sent out through the Associated 
Press. Relating the occurrence, the press dispatch said : 

"He (Pena) was at his country home, when an officer of the 
Rurales invited him to go with him. He mounted his horse and 
went. Next day servants found his body, riddled with bullets." 

September 7th Congressman Heriberto Barron, who 
had mildly criticized Diaz in an open letter, fled from 
the country and took up his residence in New York. 
One Mexican paper has it that agents of the Diaz 
secret police forced Barron upon a Ward liner at Vera- 
cruz and compelled him to leave the country. In New 
York newspapers Barron declared that he had fled to 
escape imprisonment. A few months later he begged to be 
allowed to return home, but was told that he must 
remain an exile until the death of the president of Mex- 
ico. The heinousness of Barron's crime may be gath- 


ered from the following paragraphs, the most uncompli- 
mentary in his open letter to Diaz: 

"At the velada to which I have alluded, when your name was 
pronounced by the orators, it was received with unanimous 
hisses and marks of disapproval. 

"On the night of the performance given at the Principal 
theatre in aid of the Guerrero victims, the entire audience main- 
tained a sinister silence on your arrival. The same silence pre- 
vailed when you departed. 

"If you had occasion, as I have, to mingle with the gather- 
ings and groups of people of different classes, not all Reyists, 
you would hear, Mr. President, expressions of indignation 
against you spoken openly on all sides." 

Within ten days after the banishment of Barron, a 
foreign resident, Frederick Palmer by name, an English- 
man, was lodged in Belem prison, denied bail, held in- 
communicado for some days, and finally was sentenced 
to one month's imprisonment — for doing nothing worse 
than remarking that he thought Diaz had been president 
of Mexico long enough. 

July 28th Celso Cortez, vice-president of the Central 
Club Reyista of Mexico City, was lodged in Belem 
prison for making a speech at the club rooms criticizing 
members of the Diaz cabinet. 

Following came a long list of arrests of members of 
the Democratic movement throughout the country. Usu- 
ally the charge was "sedition," but never was any evi- 
dence produced to prove sedition as Americans under- 
stand that term. In this movement there was never 
any hint of armed rebellion or any concerted violation 
of existing laws. In all of these cases I have yet to 
learn of any in which reasonable ground for the arrest 
existed. In many cases the victims were kept in jail 
for months, and in some cases they were sentenced to 
long terms in prison. The number persecuted in this 


way is problematical, as reports of only the more promi- 
nent cases got into the Mexican press. The following 
are a few of those recorded: 

In August Jose Ignacio Rebollar, secretary of the Club 
Reyista of Torreon, with several others, was arrested 
for appearing at a serenade given to the governor of the 
state and attempting to proselyte for Reyes. 

On August 1, 1909, a company of rurales broke up 
a meeting of Reyistas in Silao and placed a number 
of them in jail. 

In November, 1909, Manuel Martinez de Arrendodo, 
a wealthy planter ; his nephew, Francisco de Arrendodo ; 
four attorneys, Pedro Reguera, Antonio Juarez, Enrique 
Recio and Juan Barrera, also Marcos Valencia, Amado 
Cardenas, Francisco Vidal and other were sent to jail 
for attempting to hold a Reyist meeting in Merida, 
Yucatan. Several of the number were kept in jail for 
more than six months. 

In January, 1910, Attorney Francisco Perera Escobar, 
a member of the legislature in the state of Campeche, 
was arrested for distributing bills announcing a meeting 
of Reyists. 

December 7, 1909, Jose Lopez Portillo y Rojas, a 
prominent Reyist of the capital, was imprisoned in 
Belem on a trumped up charge. Some months later it 
was reported that he was still there and that he was 
to be sentenced to nine years' imprisonment. 

January 26, 1910, some Democrats held a public meet- 
ing in the Alameda, Mexico City. Dr. Manuel Espinosa 
de Los Monteros, president of the Central Club Reyista, 
presided, and Don Enrique Garcia de la Cadena y 
Ancona delivered a patriotic address. The police broke 
up the meeting and arrested Cadena and Monteros, 
charging them with sedition. At this writing it is re« 


ported that both of them will be sent for long terms 
to the penal colony on the Tres Marias Islands in the 

During the months following the attempt to place a 
candidate in the field against Vice-President Corral the 
Democrats tried to strengthen their position by contest- 
ing some state and local "elections." As a result there 
were many arrests and several massacres by troops or 
local authorities. 

At Petape, Oaxaca, the Twenty-fifth battalion of regu- 
lars fired on a crowd of the opposition, killing several. 
Seventy were jailed. 

At Tepames, Colima, there were many shootings. 
After the jail was full, the authorities are reported as 
having taken out some of the prisoners, compelled them 
to dig their own graves, then shot them so that they fell 
into the trenches. 

At Tehuitzingo, Puebla, in April, it was reported that 
sixteen citizens were executed without trial, and that 
many others had been condemned to twenty years* con- 
finement in the fortress of San Juan de Ulua. 

In Merida, Yucatan, federal troops were placed in 
the polling booths and large numbers of Democrats 
were arrested. 

In the state of Morelos, in February, 1909, the Demo- 
crats attempted to elect Patricio Leyva in opposition to 
Pablo Escandon, a slave-holding Spaniard whom Diaz 
had selected for the place. For accepting the Demo- 
cratic candidacy Leyva was dismissed from his govern- 
ment position as Inspector of Irrigation in the Depart- 
ment of Fomento. The president and vice-president 
of the Free Suffrage Club at Jojutla and the officers of 
a similar club at Tiaquiltenango, as well as many others, 
were jailed on charges of sedition, while the authorties 


were reported as having killed several. Police placed 
in possession of the polls prevented many from voting, 
and finally the vote as actually cast was falsified in favor 
of Escandon, who became governor. 

In July, 1909, many arrests occurred at Puerte, Si- 
naloa, and the town was filled with federal rurales. In 
January, 1910, sixteen men arrested some time before 
on suspicion of being in a plot against the government 
at Viesca, were sentenced to be shot, the supreme court 
sitting at the capital pronouncing the decree. 

While such incidents were going on the press situa- 
tion was being manipulated, also. The government 
bought or subsidized newspapers, on the one hand, and 
suppressed them on the other. Some thirty or forty 
daily and weekly publications espoused the Democratic 
cause. I do not know of one of them which the govern- 
ment did not compel to suspend operations. Despite 
the fact that they were careful of their utterances, they 
were put out of business, the majority of them by im- 
prisonment of their editors, seizure of their printing 
plants, or both. 

April 16, 1909, Antonio Duch, editor of Tierra, of 
Merida, was escorted aboard a steamer at Veracruz by 
the Mexican secret police and compelled to leave the 
country under the charge of being a "pernicious for- 
eigner." His paper was suppressed. 

July 15, 1909, Francisco Navarro, editor of La Lib- 
ertad, organ of the Club Democratico of Guadalajara, 
was jailed for criticizing the sabreing of Reyist students. 
His paper was stopped, his office closed, a gendarme was 
placed on guard and it was officially announced that were 
an attempt made to issue the paper from another shop, 
it, also, would be closed. 

August 3, 1909, Feliz Vera, correspondent of demo- 


cratic papers at Guadalajara, was taken to Belem prison, 
where he remains at this writing, though so far no 
formal charge has been filed against him. 

In October, 1909, Manuel M. Oviedo, editor of La 
Hoja Suelia and president of the Anti-re-electionist 
Club of Torreon, was sent to prison and his paper was 
suppressed. Action was taken because Oviedo asked 
for a fair state election following the forced retirement 
of Governor Cardenas. 

In November, 1909, Martin Stecker, a native of Ger- 
many, editor of El Trueno, Linares, Nuevo Leon, was 
jailed on a charge of "defamation" and his newspaper 
was suppressed. Stecker was only a very mild Reyist. 
The real reason for his arrest was that Linares is a 
good newspaper field and members of the Diaz machine 
wished the sole privilege of exploiting it. Just previous 
to the suppression of El Trueno Governor Reyes had 
been banished from the country and his friends put out 
of the municipal government at Linares. 

In November, 1909, Revista de Merida, of Merida, 
Yucatan, was suppressed by the government. Editor 
Menendez and other writers were imprisoned on the 
charge of sedition. 

About the same time two other Merida newspapers 
were suppressed. One was Yucatan Nuevo. Its edi- 
tors, Fernando M. Estrada and Ramon Peovide, are 
at this writing still in jail. The other was La Defensa 
Nacional. Its editors, Calixto M. Maldonada and 
Caesar A. Gonzalez, were charged with "provocation of 
rebellion." The evidence produced in court against them 
consisted of copies of a circular sent out by the National 
Anti-re-electionist Club, which they were passing among 
their friends. 

In February, 1910, Heriberto Frias, editor of El 


Correo de la Tarde, was driven out of Mazatlan be- 
cause he published the statement that in the so-called 
election in Sinaloa boys of ten and twelve were permitted 
to vote the administration ticket, while men of forty 
and fifty of the opposition party were turned away on 
the ground that they were too young to vote. 

In October, 1909, Alfonso B. Peniche, editor of La 
Redencion, Mexico City, was arrested for "defamation" 
of a minor employe of the government. Despite his 
imprisonment, Peniche succeeded in continuing his pub- 
lication for a time, although in order to do so he was 
compelled to smuggle his copy through the bars of the 
prison. After remaining in Belem a short time he pub- 
lished an article asking for an investigation 'into the con- 
ditions of Belem, alleging that an instrument of torture 
called "the rattler" was used upon the prisoners. This 
undoubtedly had something to do with the extreme 
severity of the punishment that was meted out to 
Peniche, for after remaining five months in Belem he 
was sentenced to banishment to the penal colony on the 
Tres Marias Islands for four long years. 

Undoubtedly the charge against Peniche was only a 
subterfuge to get him out of the way. The story of 
his "defamation," according to Mexico Nuevo, the most 
conservative democratic daily, was: 

In his paper Redencion, now suspended, he published a state- 
ment signed by various merchants, making charges against a 
tax collector of the federal district, relating to acts committed 
in his official capacity. The Bureau of Taxation took action 
in the matter, ordering an investigation, and, as a result, the 
charges were sustained and the tax collector was removed by the 
Secretary of Hacienda, with the approval of the President of 
the Republic, for "not deserving the confidence of the govern- 
ment;" moreover, he was arraigned before the first judge of the 
district, for an inquiry into the supposed fraud of the treasury, 
and this inquiry is now pending. 


This being the case, there were many reasons to suppose that 
Peniche, in publishing the accusation, was working in the public 
interest and was not committing any crime. Instead of this, he 
is convicted of defamation, an even more serious offense than 

El Diario del Hogar, an old and conservative daily 
paper of the capital, which has espoused the cause of 
the Democrats, printed an account of Peniche's banish- 
ment also, the article appearing under the caption 
"Newspaper Men Watch Out." The authorities at once 
forced the suspension of the paper. The owner, Filomena 
Mata, an aged man who had retired from active life; 
Filomena Mata, Jr., managing editor, and the mechanical 
foreman, were taken to prison. A month afterwards 
it was reported that father and son were still in jail 
and that Mata, Sr., was dying of ill treatment received 
from the jailers. 

Some time later, in March, 1910, the government 
forced the suspension of Mexico Nuevo. It was revived 
later, however, and is the only Democratic paper which 
survived the Reyes campaign. 

Paulino Martinez was one of the oldest and best- 
known newspaper men in Mexico. His papers were 
the only ones in opposition to the policy of the admin- 
istration which succeeded in weathering the storm of 
press persecutions of past years. For several years his 
papers. La Voz de Juarez and El Insurgente, were the 
only opposition papers in Mexico. Martinez kept them 
alive, so he told me himself, by refraining always from 
making direct criticisms of high officials or acts of Gen- 
eral Diaz. 

But with the campaign against the Democratic move- 
ment Martinez's papers went with the rest. When the 
government began action against him his papers num- 


6ered four, La Voz de Juarez, El Insurgente, El Chi- 
naco, all weeklies, and El Anti-Re-electionista, a daily. 
All were published in the capital. 

The first blow fell upon La Voz de Juarez (The Voice 
of Juarez). August 3, 1909, that paper was suppressed 
and the plant confiscated. "Slandering the army," was 
the charge. The police looked for Martinez, but failed 
to find him. All minor employes found about the shop 
were jailed, and it was announced that the plant would 
be sold. 

September 3rd the secret police descended upon El 
Insurgente and El Chinaco, also upon El Paladin, a 
weekly paper published by Ramon Alvarez Soto. The 
type forms of all three publications were seized and 
taken to the offices of the secret police as "pieces de 
conviction." Soto, Joaquin Pina, Martinez's managing 
editor of El Chinaco, Joaquin Fernando Bustillos, an- 
other editor, five printers, two other employes and Mrs. 
Martinez, were taken to jail. After five days the report- 
ers and printers were released. But Mrs. Martinez and 
Enrique Patino, a member of El Paladin staff, who had 
been apprehended later, were held on charges of sedi- 

El Anti-Re-electionista, the last of the Martinez papers, 
succumbed September 28th. The office was closed, the 
plant seized and sealed with the seal of the court, and 
twenty-two employes found about the office were all 
taken prisoner and charged with sedition. The list con- 
sisted of three members of the office executive force, 
one reporter, fifteen typesetters and three bindery girls. 

How long these twenty-two remained in prison is not 
recorded. Six months later I saw a report that at least 
one of the Martinez editors, D. Feliz Palavicini, was 
still in prison. Mrs. Martinez remained in jail for sev- 


eral months. Her husband succeeded in escaping to 
the United States, and when Mrs. Martinez joined him 
neither of them had a dollar. Mrs. Martinez, by the 
way, is a native of the United States. 

Most remarkable of all was the treatment meted out 
to the nominee of the Democratic Party, General Ber- 
nardo Reyes, governor of the state of Nuevo Leon. 
Doubly, trebly remarkable was that treatment in view oi 
the fact that General Reyes not only did not accept 
the nomination of the Democratic Party, but that he 
repudiated it. Four times he repudiated it. Not only 
that, but during the months in which calamities were 
being heaped upon him and his friends he never gave 
utterance to one word or raised his little finger in the 
most insignificant act that might be construed as an 
offense to President Diaz, to Vice-President Corral, or 
to any of the members of the Diaz government. By its 
military bluster the government tried to create the im- 
pression that Reyes was on the verge of an armed revolt, 
but of that there is not the slightest evidence. 

As a candidate. General Reyes did not perfectly fit 
the ideal of the leaders of the Democratic movement, 
for he had never before appeared in any way as a 
champion of democratic principles. Doubtless the 
Democrats chose him, as a government organ charged, 
because of their belief in his "ability to face the music." 
Reyes was a strong figure, and it requires a strong figure 
to rally the people when their fears are strong. It was 
for this reason that the Democratic leaders pinned their 
faith to him, and they launched their campaign on the 
assumption that when he discovered that the people were 
almost unanimous for him, he would accept the nomina- 

In this the Democrats were mistaken. Reyes chose 


not to face the music. Four times he repudiated the 
nomination publicly. He retired to his mountain resort 
and there waited for the storm to blow over. He put 
himself out of touch with his partizans and with the 
world. He made no move that might give offense to 
the government. 

And yet — what happened to Reyes? 

Diaz deposed the head of the military zone, which 
includes the state of Monterey, and placed in command 
General Trevino, a personal enemy of Reyes. Trevino 
marched upon Reyes' state at the head of an army. He 
stopped on his way at Saltillo and, by a display of arms, 
compelled the resignation of Governor Cardenas of 
Coahuila merely because the latter was a friend of Reyes. 
He threw his army into Monterey and overturned the 
local government, as well as all the municipal govern- 
ments in the entire state. Diaz ordered a fine of a third 
of a million dollars placed upon Reyes' financial asso- 
ciates, in order that they, as well as he, might be dealt 
a crushing blow financially. Trevino surrounded Reyes 
in his mountain resort and compelled him to return, a 
virtual prisoner, and to hand in his resignation. Finally, 
Reyes was sent out of the country, ostensibly on a "mili- 
tary mission" to Europe — actually, banished from his 
native country for two years, or longer, should the ruler 
so decide. 

So perished Reyism, as the government papers de- 
risively called the opposition. The Democratic move- 
ment was demoralized for the time being, and the gov- 
ernment doubtless imagined that the end of Reyes meant 
the end of the Democratic movement. 

But not so. The democratic ambitions of the peo- 
ple had been aroused to a high pitch, and they would not 
be denied. Instead of intimidating them, the banish- 


ment of Reyes and the high-handed acts that went be- 
fore it only served to make the people bolder in their 
demands. From daring to nominate a candidate merely 
for vice-president, they passed to nominating a candi- 
date for president. The pseudo opposition party became 
an opposition party indeed. 

In Francisco I. Madero, the party found its new 
leader. Madero was a distinguished citizen of Coahuila, 
a member of one of the oldest and most respected fami- 
lies in Mexico. The Maderos had never involved them- 
selves in Diaz politics; they were rich farmers, well 
educated, cultured and progressive. Madero's first 
notable interest in democracy was shown in his book, 
"La Sucesion Presidencial," which he published in 1908. 
It was a thoughtful but mild criticism of the Diaz 
regime, and in the end it urged the people to insist upon 
the right to engage in the elections of 1910. 

Madero's book is said to have been suppressed in 
Mexico, but only after it had gained wide circulation, 
and its influence was no doubt considerable in prompt- 
ing the launching of the Democratic Party. After the 
nomination of Reyes, Madero went about the country 
in his own private car, addressing public meetings, not 
campaigning for Reyes, but confining himself chiefly to 
the dissemination of the A, B, C's of popular govern- 

The banishment of Reyes did not stop Madero's 
speech-making, and before the end of 1909 it was 
announced that the Democratic and Reyist clubs would 
reorganize as "Anti-Re-electionist" clubs, and that a 
national convention would be held at which the Anti- 
Re-electionist Party would be organized and nomina- 
tions made for president and vice-president of the re- 


The convention was held in the middle of April, 1910 ; 
Madero was named for president and Dr. Francisco 
Vasquez Gomez for vice-president. The scattered ele- 
ments of the interrupted campaign were got together and 
Madero and such others of the Democratic leaders as 
were out of jail went on with their speech-making — 
careful, as ever, to criticize but sparingly and to encour- 
age no breaches of the peace. 

The result was instantaneous. The nation was again 
in a fervor of enthusiasm over the idea of actually exer- 
cising their constitutional right of franchise. Had the 
movement been small, it would have been allowed to 
go its way and spend itself. But the movement was 
tremendous. It put on a parade in the national capital 
such as Diaz, with all his powers of coercion and of 
hire, had never been able to equal in his own behalf. 
Every marcher in that parade knew that in walking 
with that throng he was laying himself liable to perse- 
cution, to ruin, perhaps to death, but yet so great was 
the throng that the government organs themselves were 
forced to admit that the parade was a triumph for the 
"Maderists," as the Democrats were now called. 

Before the convention and during the convention the 
Diaz press pooh-poohed Madero, his program and his 
party as too insignificent to be noticed. But before the 
delegates had returned to their homes the movement 
had assumed such grave proportions that the govern- 
ment proceeded against it as it had proceeded against 
the "Reyists" before the banishment of Reyes. Every- 
where members of Anti-Re-electionist clubs were thrown 
into jail; such progressive newspapers as remained 
and dared to espouse the Democratic cause were sup- 
pressed, and the police power was used to break up the 
clubs, stop public meetings and prevent receptions being 


accorded the party's candidates as they traveled through 
the country. 

So severe was this persecution that, May 21st, Attor- 
ney Roque Estrada, one of the most prominent of the 
Anti-Re-electionist speakers, addressed an open letter to 
Diaz, begging him to interfere in behalf of constitutional 
rights. This was followed by a letter from Madero him- 
self, couched in a similar vein. In recounting some of 
the outrages which had been heaped upon his friends, 
Estrada said in part: 

'When the delegate of Cananea, Sonora, returned to his 
home, he was imprisoned, just as were some presidents of clubs; 
in Alamos, Sonora, independent citizens were arrested, and a 
journalist and his family were martyred; in Torreon, Coahuila, 
in Monterey, and in Orizaba the rights of association and 
reunion have been impudently violated; finally, in the tormented 
City of Puebla, immediately after the visit which the candidates 
of the people made on the 14th and 15th of the current month, 
an epoch of terror was begun, capable of destroying the repu- 
tation of the most sane and solid administration. In the City 
of Zaragoza many independent citizens were confined in prison, 
others were consigned to the army, as in the case of Senor 
Diaz Duran, president of an Anti-Re-electionist club; and others 
have felt the necessity of abandoning their homes in order to 
escape the fury of authority." 

Some of the outrages recounted in Madero's letter 
follow : 

"At Coahuila the public officials have arbitrarily forbidden 
demonstrations in our honor, preventing also the spread of our 
principles. The same has happened in the states of Nuevo Leon, 
Aguascalientes and San Luis Potosi. * * * j^ the States of 
Sonora and Puebla the conditions are serious. In the former 
State an independent journalist, Mr. Caesar del Vando, was 
thrown into jail. * * * At Cananea the prosecutions are 
extreme against the members of my party, and according to late 
news received therefrom more than thirty individuals have been 
imprisoned, among them the full board of directors of the 


Club Anti-Re-electionista de Obreros (workers), three of whom 
were forcibly enlisted in the army. 

"At Puebla, Atlixco and Tlaxcala, where untold outrages 
have been committed against my followers, reigns intense excite- 
ment. The last news received shows the conditions of the 
working classes to be desperate; that they may at any moment 
resort to violent means to have their rights respected." 

In June, the month of election, matters became very 
much worse. Estrada and Madero themselves were 
arrested. On the night of June 6 they were secretly 
taken and secretly held in the penitentiary at Monterey 
until the truth became noised about, when charges were 
formally preferred against them. Estrada was charged 
with "sedition." Madero was first accused of protect- 
ing Estrada from arrest, but soon afterwards this charge 
was dropped and he was accused of "insulting the 
nation." He was removed from the penitentiary of 
Nuevo Leon to the penitentiary of San Luis Potosi, and 
here he remained incommunicado until after "election." 

The presidential campaign ended amid many reports 
of government persecutions. A reputable dispatch dated 
June 9th said that in breaking up a gathering at Saltillo, 
following the news of the arrest of Madero, the police 
rode down the crowds, injuring more than two hundred 
people. Another, dated June 14th, said that in the cities 
of Torreon, Saltillo and Monterey more than one hun- 
dred persons were arrested on the charge of "insulting" 
the government ; that at Ciudad Porfirio Diaz forty-seven 
prominent citizens were arrested in one day, and that 
a big exodus of citizens of the border towns, fearing 
arrest, was taking place to the United States. Still 
another dispatch, dated June 21st, said that more than 
four hundred arrests had been made in northern Mexico 
the previous day and that 1,000 political prisoners were 


being held incommunicado, where they would remain 
until after the election. 

"Election day" found soldiers or rurales in every 
town and hamlet. Booths were actually put up here and 
there and a farce of an election was gone through with. 
Soldiers held the polls and every man who dared cast a 
ballot for any but the administration ticket knew that he 
was risking imprisonment, confiscation of property, even 
death, in doing so. Finally, the government went 
through the form of counting the vote, and in due course 
of time the world was told that the Mexican people had 
proved "practically unanimous" in their choice of Dia^ 
and Corral. 



On the line of the Mexican Railway, which climbs, in 
one hundred odd miles of travel, from the port of Vera- 
cruz 10,000 feet to the rim of the valley of Mexico, are 
situated a number of mill towns. Nearing the summit, 
after that wonderful ascent from the tropics to the snows, 
the passenger looks back from his car window through 
dizzying reaches of empty air, sheer a full mile, as the 
crow might dare to fly a score of them, down to the 
uppermost of these mill towns, Santa Rosa, a gray 
checkerboard upon a map of green. Just below Santa 
Rosa, but out of sight behind the titanic shoulder of a 
mountain, nestles Rio Blanco, largest of the mill towns, 
scene of the bloodiest strike in the labor history of 

In altitude half way between the shark-infested waters 
of Veracruz harbor and the plateau of the Montezumas, 
Rio Blanco, which in Spanish means White River, is 
not only a paradise in climate and scenery, but it is also 
perfectly situated for water-power manufactories. A 
bountiful supply of water, provided by the copious rains 
and the snows of the heights, gathers in the Rio Blanco 
and with the speed of Niagara rushes down the mountain 
gorges and into the town. 

It is said to be a favorite boast of Manager Harting- 
ton, the steel-eyed, middle-aged Englishman who over- 
sees the work of the 6,000 men, women and children, 
that the mill at Rio Blanco is not only the largest and 


most modern cotton manufactory in the world, but that 
it pays the richest profits on the investment. 

Certainly the factory is a big one. We saw it — De 
Lara and I — from A to Z, following the raw cotton from 
the cleaner through all its various processes and treat- 
ments until it finally came out neatly folded in fancy 
prints or specially colored weaves. We even descended 
five iron ladders down into the bowels of the earth, saw 
the great pin and caught a glimpse of the swirling black 
waters which turn every wheel in the mill. And we 
observed the workers, too, men, women and children. 

They were Mexicans with hardly an exception. The 
men, in the mass, are paid thirty-seven and one-half 
cents a day in our money, the women from one dollar 
and a half to two dollars a week, the children, who range 
down to seven and eight, from ten to twenty-five cents 
a day. These figures were given us by an officer of the 
mill who showed us about, and they were confirmed in 
talks with the workers themselves. 

Thirteen hours a day — from 6 until 8 — are long for 
labor in the open air and sunshine, but thirteen hour? 
in that roar of machinery, in that lint-laden air, in those 
poisonous dye rooms — how very long that must be ! The 
terrible smell of the dye rooms nauseated me and I had 
to hurry on. The dye rooms are a suicide hole for the 
men who work there, for it is said that they survive, on 
an average, only a twelve-month. Yet the company finds 
that plenty of them are willing to commit the suicide 
for the additional inducement of seven and one-half 
cents a day over the regular wage. 

The Rio Blanco mill was established sixteen years ago 
— sixteen years, but in their history the mill and the 
town have just two epochs — before the strike and after 
the strike. Wherever we went about Rio Blanco and 


Orizaba, the latter being the chief town in that political 
district, we heard echoes of the strike, although its bloody 
story had been written nearly two years before our visit. 

In Mexico there are no labor laws in operation to 
protect the workers — no provision for factory inspection, 
no practical statutes against infant labor, no processes 
through which workmen may recover damages for in- 
juries sustained or death met in the mine or at the 
machine. Wage-workers literally have no rights that the 
employers are bound to respect. Policy only determines 
the degree of exploitation, and in Mexico that policy is 
such as might prevail in the driving of horses in a lo- 
cality where horses are dirt cheap, where profits from 
their use are high, and where there exists no Society 
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. 

Over against this absence of protection on the part 
of the governmental powers stands oppression on the 
part of the governmental powers, for the machinery of 
the Diaz state is wholly at the command of the employer 
to whip the worker into accepting his terms. 

The six thousand laborers in the Rio Blanco mill were 
not content with thirteen hours daily in the company of 
that roaring machinery and in that choking atmosphere, 
especially since it brought to them only from twenty-five 
to thirty-seven and one-half cents. Nor were they con- 
tent with paying out of such a sum the one American 
dollar a week that the company charged for the rental 
of the two-room, dirt-floor hovels which they called 
their homes. Least of all were they content with the 
coin in which they were paid. This consisted of credit 
checks upon the company store, which finished the ex- 
ploitation — took back for the company the final centavo 
that the company had paid out in wages. A few miies 
away, at Orizaba, the same goods could be purchased 


for from twenty-five to seventy-five per cent less, but 
the operatives were unable to buy their goods at these 

The operatives were not content. The might of the 
company towered like a mountain above them, and 
behind and above the company towered the government. 
Behind the company stood Diaz himself, for Diaz was 
not only the government, he was also a heavy stockholder 
in the company. Yet the operatives prepared to fight. 
Secretly they organized a union, "El Circulo de 
Obreros," which means "The Circle of Workers," hold- 
ing their meetings not en masse, but in small groups 
in their homes, in order that the authorities might not 
learn of their purposes. 

Immediately upon the company learning that the work- 
ers were discussing their troubles it took action against 
them. Through the police authorities it issued a general 
order forbidding any of the operatives from receiving 
any visitors whatsoever, even their own relatives being 
barred, the penalty for violation being the city jail. Per- 
sons who were suspected of having signed the roll of the 
union were put in prison at once, and a weekly news- 
paper which was known to be friendly to the workers 
was swooped down upon, suppressed and the printing 
plant confiscated. 

At this juncture a strike was called in the cotton mills 
in the city of Puebla, in an adjoining state. The mills 
of Puebla were owned by the same company as owned 
the Rio Blanco mills, and the operatives thereof were 
living under similar conditions to those at Rio Blanco. 
The Puebla workers went on strike and the company, 
knowing that they had no resources behind them, de- 
cided, as one of its agents told me, "to let nature take 


its course;" that is, to starve out the workers, as they 
believed this process could be accomplished inside of a 

The strikers turned for aid to those of their fellow- 
craftsmen who were at work in other localities. The 
Rio Blanco workers themselves were already preparing to 
strike, but thereupon they decided to wait for a time 
longer, in order that they might collect from their meager 
earnings a fund to support their brothers in the city of 
Puebla. Thus were the ends of the company defeated 
for the moment, for by living on half rations both work- 
ers and strikers were able to eke out their existence. 
But no sooner had the company learned the source of 
strength of the Puebla strikers than the mills at Rio 
Blanco were shut down and the workers there locked 
out. Other mills in other localities were shut down and 
other means taken to prevent any help reaching the 
Puebla strikers. 

Locked out, the Rio Blanco workers promptly as- 
sumed the offensive, declared they were on strike and 
formulated a series of demands calculated in some meas- 
ure to alleviate the conditions of their lives. 

But the demands were unheard, the machinery of the 
mill roared no more, the mill slept in the sun, the waters 
of the Rio Blanco dashed unharnessed through the town, 
the manager of the company laughed in the faces of the 
striking men and women. 

The six thousand starved. For two months they 
starved. They scoured the surrounding hills for ber- 
ries, and when the berries were gone they deceived their 
gnawing stomachs with indigestible roots and herbs 
gleaned from the mountain sides. In utter despair, they 
looked to the highest power they knew, Porfirio Dia.-^, 


and begged him to have mercy. They begged him to 
investigate their cause, and for their part they promised 
to abide by his decision. 

President Diaz pretended to investigate. He ren- 
dered a decision, but his decision was that the mills 
should reopen and the workers go back to their thirteen 
hours of dust and machinery on the same terms as they 
had left them. 

True to their promise, the strikers at Rio Blanco 
prepared to comply. But they were weak from starva- 
tion. In order to work they must have sustenance. Con- 
sequently on the day of their surrender they gathered in 
a body in front of the company store opposite the big 
mill and asked that each of their number be given a 
certain quantity of corn and beans so that they might 
be able to live through the first week and until they should 
be paid their wages. 

The storekeeper jeered at the request. "To these dogs 
we will not even give water!" is the answer he is cred- 
ited with giving them. 

It was then that a woman, Margarita Martinez, ex- 
horted the people to take by force the provisions that 
had been denied them. This they did. They looted the 
store, then set fire to it, and finally to the mill across 
fhe way. 

The people had not expected to riot, but the govern- 
ment had expected it. Unknown to the strikers, bat- 
talions of regular soldiers were waiting just outside the 
town, under command of General Rosalio Martinez him- 
self, sub-secretary of war. The strikers had no arms. 
They were not prepared for revolution. They had in- 
tended no mischief, and their outburst was a spontaneous 
and doubtless a natural one, and one which an officer 
of the company afterwards confided to me could easily 


have been taken care of by the local police force, which 
was strong. 

Nevertheless, the soldiers appeared, leaping upon the 
scene as if out of the ground. Volley after volley was 
discharged into the crowd at close range. There was 
no resistance whatsoever. The people were shot down 
in the streets with no regard for age or sex, many wom- 
en and children being among the slain. They were pur- 
sued to their homes, dragged from their hiding places 
and shot to death. Some fled to the hills, where they 
were hunted for days and shot on sight. A company 
of rural guards which refused to fire on the crowd when 
the soldiers first arrived were exterminated on the spot. 

There are no official figures of the number killed in 
the Rio Blanco massacre, and if there were any, of 
course they would be false. Estimates run from two 
hundred to eight hundred. My information for the 
Rio Blanco strike was obtained from numerous widely 
different sources — from an officer of the company itself, 
from a friend of the governor who rode with the rurales 
as they chased the fleeing strikers through the hills, from 
a labor editor who escaped after being hotly pursued 
for days, from survivors of the strike, from others who 
had heard the story from eye witnesses. 

"I don't know how many were killed," the man who 
rode with the rurales told me, "but on the first night 
after the soldiers came I saw two flat cars piled high with 
dead and mangled bodies, and there were a good many 
killed after the first night f* 

"Those flat cars," the same informant told me, "were 
hauled away by special train that night, hurried to 
Veracruz, where the bodies were dumped in the harbor 
as food for the sharks" 

Strikers who were not punished by death were pun- 


ished in other ways scarcely less terrible. It seems that 
for the first few hours death was dealt out indiscrimi- 
nately, but after that some of those who were caught 
were not killed. Fugitives who were captured after the 
first two or three days were rounded up in a bull pen, 
and some five hundred of them were impressed into 
the army and sent to Quintana Roo. The vice-president 
and the secretary of the "Circulo de Obreros" were 
hanged, while the woman orator, Margarita Martinez, 
was among those sent to the prison of San Juan de 

Among the newspaper men who suffered as a result 
of the Rio Blanco strike are Jose Neira, Justino Fer- 
nandez, Juan Olivares and Paulino Martinez. Neira 
and Fernandez were imprisoned for long terms, the lat- 
ter being tortured until he lost his reason. Olivares 
was pursued for many days, but escaped capture and 
found his way to the United States. None of the three 
had any connection with the riot. The fourth, Paulino 
Martinez, committed no crime more heinous than to 
comment mildly in his newspaper in favor of the strik- 
ers. He published his paper at Mexico City, a day's 
ride on the train to Rio Blanco. Personally he had been 
no nearer the scene of the trouble than that city, yet he 
was arrested, carried over the mountains to the mill 
town, imprisoned and held incommunicado for five 
months without even a charge being preferred against 

The government made every effort to conceal the facts 
of the Rio Blanco massacre, but murder will out, and 
when the newspapers did not speak the news flew from 
mouth to mouth until the nation was shuddering at the 
story. It was a waste of blood, indeed, yet, even from 
the viewpoint of the workers, it was not wholly in vain. 


For in the story the company store held a prominent 
place, and so great a protest was raised against it that 
President Diaz decided to make one concession to the 
decimated band of operatives and to abolish the company 
store at Rio Blanco. 

Thus where before the strike there was but one store 
in Rio Blanco, today there are many; the workers buy 
where they choose. Thus it would seem that by their 
starvation and their blood the strikers had won a slight 
victory, but it is a question whether this is so, since in 
some ways the screws have been put down harder than 
ever before. Provision has been made against a repeti- 
tion of the strike, provision that, for a country that 
claims to be a republic, is, to speak mildly, astounding. 

The provision consists, first, of eight hundred Mex- 
ican troops — six hundred regular soldiers and two hun- 
dred rurales — who are encamped upon the company 
property; second, of a jefe politico clothed with the 
powers of a cannibal chief 

When we visited the barracks, De Lara and I, the 
little captain who showed us about informed us that 
the quarters were furnished, ground, house, light and 
water, by the company, and that in return the army was 
placed directly and unequivocally at the call of the com- 

As to the jefe politico, his name is Miguel Gomez, and 
he was promoted to Rio Blanco from Cordoba, where 
his readiness to kill is said to have provoked the admira- 
tion of the man who appointed him, President Diaz. 
Regarding the powers of Miguel Gomez, I can hardly 
do better than to quote the words of an officer of the 
company, with whom De Lara and I took dinner one 

"Miguel Gomez has orders direct from President Diaz 



to censor the reading of the mill workers and to allow 
no radical newspapers or Liberal literature to get into 
their hands. More than that, he has orders to ki)i any- 
one whom he suspects of having evil intentions. Yes, 
I said kill. It is carte blanche with Gomez, and no qces-- 
tions asked. He asks no one's advice and no coi'rt ?it;^ 
on his action, either before or after. And he d(,j: Ydli 
If he sees a man on the street and gets any wh:/<.sical 
suspicion of him, dislikes his dress or his farc^ it is 
enough. That man disappears. I remember ? laborer 
in the dye-mixing room who spoke some words friendly 
to Liberalism ; I remember a spool tender who ri,entioned 
strike; there have been others — many others. They 
have disappeared suddenly, have been swallowed up and 
nothing heard of them but the whispers of their 
friends !" 

Of course, it is impossible in the nature of things to 
verify this statement, but it is worth noting that it does 
not come from a revolutionist. 

The trade unionists of Mexico are, of course, by far 
the best paid workers in the country. Because of the 
opposition of both employers and government, as well 
as the deep degradation out of which it is necessary for 
the Mexican to climb before he is able to pluck the fruits 
of organization, unionism is still in its infancy in Mexico. 
It is still in its swaddling clothes and, under the circum- 
stances as they exist today, its growth is slow and 
fraught with great hardship. So far, there is no Mex- 
ican Federation of Labor. 

The principal Mexican unions in 1908, as set forth 
to me by Felix Vera, president of the Grand League of 
Railroad Workers, and other organizers, were as fol- 

The Grand League of Railroad Workers, 10,000 mem- 


bers; the Mechanics' Union, 500 members; Boilermak- 
ers* Union, 800 members; Cigarmakers' Union, 1,500 
members; Carpenters' Union, 1,500 members; the Shop 
Blacksmiths' Union, with headquarters at Ciudad Por- 
firio Diaz, 800 members; Steel and Smelter Workers' 
Union, of Chihuahua, 500 members. 

These are the only permanent Mexican unions, and 
an addition of their membership shows that they total 
under 16,000. Other unions have sprung up, as at Rio 
Blanco, at Cananea, at Tizapan and other places in re- 
sponse to a pressing need, but they have been crushed 
either by the employers or by the government — usually 
by both working in conjunction, the latter acting as the 
servant of the former. In the two years since 1908 there 
has been practically no advance in organization. Indeed, 
for a time the largest union, the railroad workers, hav- 
ing been beaten in a strike, all but went out of existence. 
But recently it has revived to almost its former strength. 

All the unions mentioned are Mexican unions exclu- 
sively. The only branch of American organization 
which extends to Mexico consists of railroad men, who 
exclude Mexicans from membership. Hence the Grand 
League itself is a purely Mexican union. 

As to pay, the boilermakers received a minimum of 
27y2 cents an hour in American money; the carpenters, 
who are organized only in the capital and have as yet 
no scale, from 75 cents to $1.75; the cigarmakers, from 
$1.75 to $2; the shop blacksmiths, 22J/1 cents an hour, 
and the steel and smelter workers, 25 cents an hour. 

Among these trades there have been several strikes. 
In 1905 the cigarmakers enforced their own shop rules. 
A little later the union mechanics in the railroad shops 
at Aguascalientes struck because they were being gradu- 
ally replaced by Hungarian unorganized men at lower 


wages. The strikers not only won their point, but se- 
cured a five-cent per day raise of wages besides, which 
so encouraged the boilermakers that the latter crafts- 
men made a demand all over the country for a five-cent 
raise and got it. 

Besides several short strikes of less importance still, 
this is the extent of the labor victories in Mexico. Vic- 
tory has been the exception. Intervention by the gov- 
ernment, with blood and prison for the strikers, has been 
the rule. 

The strike of the Grand League of Railway Work- 
ers occurred in the spring of 1908. The league consists 
principally of brakemen, who received $37.50 per month 
in American money, and shop mechanics, who received 
twenty-five cents an hour. Early in 1908 the bosses at 
San Luis Potosi began discriminating against union men, 
both in the shops and on the trains. The unions pro- 
tested to General Manager Clark, and the latter promised 
to make reparation within two months. At the end of 
two months nothing had been done. The union then 
gave the manager twenty-four hours in which to act. 
At the end of twenty-four hours still nothing had been 
done. So the entire membership on the road, consisting 
of 3,000 men, walked out. 

The strike tied up every foot of the Mexican National 
Railway, consisting of nearly one thousand miles of road 
running from Laredo, Texas, to Mexico City. For six 
days traffic was at a standstill. Recognition of the union, 
which is the necessary prerequisite for successful peace 
in any struggle along union lines, seemed assured. The 
great corporation seemed beaten, but — the men had not 
reckoned with the government. 

No sooner did Manager Clark discover that he was 


beaten on the economic field of battle than he called 
to his aid the police power of Diaz. 

President Vera of the Grand League was waited upon 
by the governor of the state of San Luis Potosi and 
informed that if the men did not return to work forth- 
with they would all be rounded up and thrown in jail 
and prosecuted for conspiracy against the government. 
He showed Vera a telegram from President Diaz which 
in significant terms reminded Vera of the massacre at 
Rio Blanco, which had occurred but a year previously. 

Vera hurried to the national capital, where he inter- 
viewed Vice-President Corral and attempted to secure 
an audience with Diaz. Corral confirmed the threats of 
the governor of San Luis Potosi. Vera pleaded that the 
strikers were keeping perfect order; he begged that 
they be fairly treated. But it was no use. He knew that 
the government was not bluffing, for in such matters 
the Mexican government does not bluff. After a con- 
ference with the executive board of the union the strike 
was called off and the men went back to work. 

Of course that demoralized the union, for what, pray, 
is the use of organization if you are not permitted to 
pluck the fruits of organization? The strikers were 
taken back to work, as agreed, but they were discharged 
one after another at convenient times. The member- 
ship of the league fell off, those remaining upon the roll 
remaining only in the hope of a less tyrannical govern- 
ment soon replacing the one that had foiled them. Vera 
resigned the presidency. His resignation was refused, 
he still remained the nominal head of the organization, 
but there was nothing that he could do. It was at this 
juncture that I met and talked with him about .the railroad 
strike and the general outlook for Mexican unionism. 


"The oppression of the government," said Vera, in his 
last few words to me, "is terrible — terrible! There is 
no chance for bettering the condition of labor in Mexico 
until there is a change in the administration. Every free 
laborer in Mexico knows that!" 

Vera organized the Grand League of Railway Work- 
ers of Mexico in 1904, and since that time he has passed 
many months in prison for no other reason than his 
union activities. Not until early in 1909 did he engage 
in anything that smacked of political agitation. The 
hardships imposed by the government upon union organ- 
ization, however, inevitably drove him into opposition 
to it. He became a newspaper correspondent, and it 
was because he dared to criticize the despot that he again 
found his way into that awful pit, Belem. 

August 3, 1909, Vera was arrested at Guadalajara and 
carried to Mexico City. He was not taken before a 
judge. Nor was any formal charge lodged against him. 
He was merely told that the federal government had 
decided that he must spend the next two years in prison, 
serving out a sentence which had four years previously 
been meted out to him for his union activities, but under 
which he had been pardoned after serving one year and 
seven months. 

Though a permanent cripple, Vera is a brave and hon- 
est man and a fervent organizer. Mexican liberty will 
lose much by his imprisonment. 

Strikes in Mexico so far have usually been more the 
result of a spontaneous unwillingness on the part of the 
workers to go on with their miserable lives than of an 
organization of labor behind them or an appeal by agi- 
tators. Such a strike was that of Tizapan. 

I mention the strike of Tizapan because I happened 
to visit the spot while the strikers were starving. For 


a month the strike had been going on, and though 600 
cotton mill operatives were involved and Tizapan was 
only a score of miles from the palace of Chapultepec, 
not a daily newspaper in the capital, as far as I have 
learned, mentioned the fact that there was a strike. 

I first heard of the Tizapan strike from Paulino Mar- 
tinez, the editor, who is now a political refugee in the 
United States. Martinez cautioned me against saying 
that he told me, since, though he had not heard of the 
strike himself until after it had been called, he thought 
the telling might result in his arrest. The next day I 
took a run out to Tizapan, viewed the silent mill, visited 
the strikers in their squalid homes, and finally had a talk 
with the strike committee. 

Except for Valle Nacional, I never saw so many 
people — men, women and children — ^with the mark of 
acute starvation on their faces, as at Tizapan. True, 
there was no fever among them, thejr eyes were not 
glazing with complete exhaustion from overwork and 
insufficient sleep, but their cheeks were pale, they 
breathed feebly and they walked unsteadily from lack of 

These people had been working eleven hours a day for 
wages running from fifty cents to three dollars a week 
in our money. Doubtless they would have continued to 
work for it if they were really paid it, but the bosses 
were always devising new means to rob them of what 
Jittle they were entitled to. Dirt spots on the calico 
meant a loss of one, two and sometimes even three pesos. 
Petty fines were innumerable. Finally, each worker was 
taxed three centavos per week to pay for the food of 
the dogs belonging to the factory. That was the last 
straw. The toilers refused to accept partial wages, the 
mill was closed and the period of starvation began. 


When I visited Tizapan three-fourths of the men 
had gone away seeking work and food in other parts. 
Being wholly without means, it is quite likely that a 
large percentage of them fell into the hands of labor 
agents and were sold into slavery in the hot lands. A 
few men and the women and children were staying and 
starving. The strike committee had begged the national 
government to redress their wrongs, but without avail. 
They had asked President Diaz to reserve for them a 
little land out of the millions of acres which he was con- 
stantly signing away to foreigners, but they had received 
from him no reply. When I asked them if they hoped 
to win the strike, they told me no, that they had no hope, 
but they did not care; they preferred to die at once and 
in the open air than to go back to such miserable treat- 
ment as had been accorded them in the factory. Here is 
a translation of a pitiful appeal which these Tizapan 
strikers sent out to mill centers in other sections of the 
country : 

Fellow Countrymen: 

By this circular we make known to all the workers of the 
Mexican Republic that none of the factories which exist in 
our unfortunate country have exhibited men so avaricious as 
the manufacturers of "La Hormiga," Tizapan, since they are 
worse than highway robbers; not only are they robbers, but they 
are tyrants and hangmen. 

Let us make it plain to you. Here are we robbed in weights 
and measures. Here are we exploited without mercy. Here are 
we fined two and three pesos and down to the very last of our 
wages, and we are dismissed from our work with kicks and 
blows. But what is the most disgusting, ridiculous and vile part 
of it all is the discount that is made on the workers of three 
cents weekly for the maintenance of the lazy dogs of the factory. 
What a disgrace! 

Who can live such a sad and degraded life? Whereupon it 
does not appear that we live in a republic conquered by the 


blood of our forefathers, but rather that we inhabit a land of 
savage and brutal slave-drivers. Who can subsist on wages of 
three and four pesos weekly and discounted from that fines, 
house rent, and robbery in weights and measures? No, a 
thousand times, no! Because of such circumstances we petition 
our dear country for a fragment of land to cultivate, so that 
we may not continue to enrich the foreigner, trader and 
exploiter, who piles up gold at the cost of the devoted toil of 
the poor and unfortunate worker! 

We protest against this order of things and we will not work 
until we are guaranteed that the fines will be abolished and 
also the maintenance of dogs, for which we ought not to pay, 
and that we shall be treated as workers and not as the unhappy 
slaves of a foreigner. 

We hope that our fellow workers will aid us in this fight. 

The Committee. 
Tizapan, March 7, 1909. 

The Tizapan strike was lost. When it v^^as ready to 
do so, the company reopened the mill v^ithout difficulty, 
for, as corporation prospectuses of the country say, 
there is labor aplenty in Mexico and it is very, very 

The Cananea strike, occurring as it did, very close 
to the border line of the United States, is perhaps the one 
Mexican strike of which Americans generally have heard. 
Not having been a witness, nor even having ever been 
upon the ground, I cannot speak with personal authority, 
and yet I have talked with so many persons who were 
in one way or another connected with the affair, several 
of whom were in the very thick of the flying bullets, 
that I cannot but believe that I have a fairly clear idea 
of what occurred. 

Cananea is a copper city of Sonora, situated several 
score of miles from the Arizona border. It was estab- 
lished by W. C. Greene, who secured several million 
acres along the border from the Mexican government 


at little or no cost, and who succeeded in forming such 
intimate relations with Ramon Corral and other high 
Mexican officials that the municipal government estab- 
lished upon his property was entirely under his control, 
while the government of the Mexican town close beside 
it was exceedingly friendly to him and practically under 
his orders. The American consul at Cananea, a man 
named Galbraith, was also an employe of Greene, so 
that both the Mexican and United States governments, 
as far as Cananea and its vicinity was concerned, were 
— W. C. Greene. 

Greene, having since fallen into disrepute with the 
powers that be in Mexico, has lost most of his holdings 
and the Greene-Cananea Copper Company is now the 
property of the Cole-Ryan mining combination, one of 
the parties in the Morgan-Guggenheim copper merger. 

In the copper mines of Cananea were employed six 
thousand Mexican miners and about six hundred Amer- 
ican miners. Greene paid the Mexican miners just half 
as much as he paid the American miners, not because 
they performed only half as much labor, but because 
he was able to secure them for that price. The Mexicans 
were getting big pay, for Mexicans — three pesos a day, 
most of them. But naturally they were dissatisfied and 
formed an organization for the purpose of forcing a 
better bargain out of Greene. 

As to what precipitated the strike there is some dis- 
pute. Some say that it was due to an announcement 
by a mine boss that the company had decided to super- 
sede the system of wage labor with the system of con- 
tract labor. Others say it was precipitated by Greene's 
telegraphing to Diaz for troops, following a demand of 
the miners for five pesos a day. 

But whatever the immediate cause, the walkout was 


Started by a night shift May 31, 1906. The strikers 
marched about the company's property, calling out the 
men in the different departments. They met with suc- 
cess at all points, and trouble began only at the last 
place of call, the company lumber yard, where the parade 
arrived early in the forenoon. Here the manager, a 
man named Metcalfe, drenched the front ranks with 
water from a large hose. The strikers replied with stones, 
and Metcalfe and his brother came back with rifles. 
Some strikers fell, and in the ensuing battle the two 
Metcalfes were killed. 

During the parade, the head of the Greene detective 
squad, a man named Rowan, handed out rifles and 
ammunition to the heads of departments of the com- 
pany, and as soon as the fight started at the lumber yard 
the company detective force embarked in automobiles 
and drove about town, shooting right and left. The 
miners, unarmed, dispersed, but they were shot as they 
ran. One of the leaders, applying to the chief of police 
for arms with which the miners might protect them- 
selves, was terribly beaten by the latter, who put his 
entire force at the service of the company. During the 
first few hours after the trouble some of the Greene 
men were put in jail, but very soon they were released 
and hundreds of the miners were locked up. Finding 
that no justice was to be given them, the bulk of the 
miners retired to a point on the company's property, 
where they barricaded themselves and, with what 
weapons they could secure, defied the Greene police. 

From Greene's telegraph office were sent out reports 
that the Mexicans had started a race war and were mas- 
sacring the Americans of Cananea, including the women 
and children. Consul Galbraith sent out such inflam- 
matory stories to Washington that there was a flurry 


in our War Department; these stories were so mislead- 
ing that Galbraith was removed as soon as the real facts 
became known. 

The agent of the Department of Fomento of Mexico, 
on the other hand, reported the facts as they were, and 
through the influence of the company he was discharged 
at once. 

Colonel Greene hurried away on his private car to 
Arizona, where he called for volunteers to go to Can- 
anea and save the American women and children, offer- 
ing one hundred dollars for each volunteer, whether he 
fought or not. Which action was wholly without valid 
excuse, since the strikers not only never assumed the 
aggressive in the violent acts of Cananea, but the affair 
was also in no sense an anti-foreign demonstration. It 
was a labor strike, pure and simple, a strike in which 
the one demand was for a raise of wages to five pesos 
a day. 

While the false tales sent out from Greene's town 
were furnishing a sensation for the United States, 
Greene's Pinkertons were sent about the streets for an- 
other shoot-up of the Mexicans. Americans had been 
warned to stay indoors, in order that the assassins might 
take pot shots at anything in sight, which they did. The 
total list of killed by the Greene men — which was pub- 
lished at the time — was twenty-seven, among whom were 
several who were not miners at all. Among these, it 
is said, was a boy of six and an aged man over ninety, 
who was tending a cow when the bullet struck him. 

By grossly misrepresenting the situation, Greene suc- 
ceeded in getting a force of three hundred Americans, 
rangers, miners, stockmen, cowboys and others, together 
in Bisbee, Douglas and other towns. Governor Yzabal 
of Sonora, playing directly into the hands of Greene at 


every point, met this force of men at Naco and led them 
across the line. The crossing was disputed by the Mex- 
ican customs official, who swore that the invaders might 
pass only over his dead body. With leveled rifle this 
man faced the governor of his state and the three hun- 
dred foreigners, and refused to yield until Yzabal showed 
an order signed by General Diaz permitting the inva- 

Thus three hundred American citizens, some of them 
government employes, on June 2, 1906, violated the laws 
of the United States, the same laws that Magon and 
his friends are accused of merely conspiring to violate, 
and yet not one of them, not even Greene, the man who 
knew the situation and was extremely culpable, was ever 
prosecuted. Moreover, Ranger Captain Rhynning, who 
accepted an appointment of Governor Yzabal to com- 
mand this force of Americans, instead of being deposed 
from his position, was afterwards promoted. At this 
writing he holds the fat job of warden of the territorial 
penitentiary at Florence, Arizona. 

The rank and file of those three hundred men were 
hardly to be blamed for their act, for Greene completely 
fooled them. They thought they were invading Mexico 
to save some American women and children. When 
they arrived in Cananea on the evening of the second 
day, they discovered that they had been tricked, and 
the following day they returned without having taken 
part in the massacres of these early days of June. 

But with the Mexican soldiers and rurale forces which 
poured into Cananea that same night it was different. 
They were under the orders of Yzabal, Greene and Cor- 
ral, and they killed, as they were told to do. There 
was a company of cavalry under Colonel Barron. There 
were one thousand infantrymen under General Luis 


Torres, who hurried all the way from the Yaqui river 
to serve the purposes of Greene. There were some two 
hundred rurales. There were the Greene private detec- 
tives. There was a company of the acordada. 

And all of them took part in the killing. Miners were 
taken from the jail and hanged. Miners were taken to 
the cemetery, made to dig their own graves and were 
shot. Several hundred of them were marched away to 
Hermosillo, where they were impressed into the Mexican 
army. Others were sent away to the penal colony on 
the islands of Tres Marias. Finally, others were sen- 
tenced to long terms in prison. When Torres' army 
arrived, the strikers who had barricaded themselves in 
the hills surrendered without any attempt at resistance. 
First, however, there was a parley, in which the leaders 
were assured that they would not be shot. But in spite 
of the fact that they persuaded the strikers not to resist 
the authorities, Manuel M. Dieguez, Esteban E. Calderon 
and Manuel Ibarre, the members of the executive board 
of the union, were sentenced to four years in prison, 
where they remain to this day — unless they are dead. 

Among those who were jailed and ordered shot was 
L. Gutierrez De Lara, who had committed no crime ex- 
cept to address a meeting of the miners. The order for 
the shooting of De Lara, as well as for the others, came 
direct from Mexico City on representations from Gov- 
ernor Yzabal. De Lara had influential friends in Mex- 
ico, and these, getting word through the friendship of 
the telegraph operator and the postmaster of Cananea, 
succeeded in securing De Lara's reprieve. 

The end of the whole affair was that the strikers, 
literally hacked to pieces by the murderous violence of 
the government, were unable to rally their forces. The 
strike was broken, and in time the surviving miners 



went back to work on more unsatisfactory conditions 
than before. 

Such is the fate the Czar of Mexico metes out to 
workingmen who dare demand a larger share of the 
products of their labor in his country. One thing more 
remains to be said. Colonel Greene refused to grant 
the demand of the miners for more wages, and he 
claimed to have a good excuse for it. 

"President Diaz," said Greene, "has ordered me not 
to raise wages, and I dare not disobey him." 

It is an excuse that is being offered by employers of 
labor all over Mexico. Doubtless President Diaz did 
issue some such an order, and employers of Mexican 
labor, Americans with the rest of them, are glad to take 
advantage of it. American capitalists support Diaz with a 
great deal more unanimity than they support Taft. 
American capitalists support Diaz because they are look- 
ing to Diaz to keep Mexican labor always cheap. And 
they are looking to Mexican cheap labor to help them 
break the back of organized labor in the United States, 
both by transferring a part of their capital to Mexico 
and by importing a part of Mexico's laborers into this 



The first five chapters of this book, which, in a little 
less extended form, were published serially in The 
American Magazine in the fall of 1909, called forth a 
considerable measure of comment both in the United 
States and Mexico. Both the magazine and myself 
were deluged with letters, many of which asserted that 
the writers themselves had witnessed conditions similar 
to those which I described. On the other hand, there 
were many who flatly averred that I was a fabricator 
and a slanderer, declaring, variously, that nothing akin 
to slavery or even to peonage existed in Mexico, that, if 
it did, it was the only practical way to civilize Mexico, 
anyhow, that the Mexican working people were the 
happiest and most fortunate on the face of the earth, 
that President Diaz was the most benign ruler of the 
age, that a long enough hunt would discover cases of 
barbarities even in the United States, and we would 
better clean our own house first, that there were $900,- 
000,000 of American capital invested in Mexico — and 
so on and so on. 

The remarkable thing, indeed, about the discussion 
was the headlong manner in which certain magazines, 
newspapers, book publishers and private individuals in 
this country rushed to the defense of President Diaz. 
These individuals evidently acted on the theory that a 
charge of slavery in his domain was an aspersion on 
the rule of President Diaz, and quite correctly so. Where- 
fore, they proceeded to denounce me in the most vigor- 
ous terms, on the one hand, and to let loose a flood of 
adulatory literature concerning President Diaz, on the 



other. I imagine that it would require a very long freight 
train to carry all the flattering literature that was cir- 
culated in this country by the friends of Diaz in the 
six months following the first appearance of my articles 
upon the news stands. 

The perusal of those articles and this other literature 
also would drive anyone inevitably to the conclusion 
that somebody was deliberately distorting the truth. Who 
was distorting the truth? Who — and why? Since the 
who as well as the why are peculiarly a part of this story 
I may be pardoned for pausing for a few pages to reply, 
first, to the question, "Who?" 

It would give me pleasure to present here some hun- 
dreds of letters which, among them, corroborate many 
times all the essential features of my account of Mex- 
ican slavery. But did I do so there would be little room 
left in the book for anything else. I can merely say 
that in most cases the writers claimed to have spent 
various numbers of years in Mexico. The letters were 
unsolicited, the writers were paid by no one; in many 
cases they were endangering their own interests in writ- 
ing. If I am the liar, all of these persons must be liars, 
also, a proposition which I doubt if anyone could believe 
were they to read the letters. 

But I am not printing these letters and I do not ask 
the reader to consider them in my favor. Samples of 
them, and a large enough number to be convincing, are 
to be found, however, in the November, December and 
January numbers of The American Magazine. 

I shall pass over, also, the published testimony of other 
writers, well-known investigators, who have corrobo- 
rated my story in more or less detail. For example, 
the account of the slavery of the American rubber plan- 
tations, written by Herman Whitaker and printed in 


The American Magazine for February, 1910; the ac- 
counts of the slavery of Yucatan by the EngHsh writers, 
Arnold and Frost, in the book, "An American Egypt," 
which was quoted at length in The American Magazine 
of April, 1910. The corroboration which I shall present 
here is taken almost entirely from my critics themselves, 
persons who started out to deny the slavery or to pal- 
liate it, and who ended by admitting the existence of the 
essential features of that institution. 

To begin with the least important class of witnesses, 
I shall take up first the statements of several American 
planters who rushed into print to defend the system 
of their friend Diaz. There is George S. Gould, man- 
ager of the San Gabriel rubber plantation, on the Isthmus 
of Tehuantepec. In various newspapers Mr. Gould was 
quoted extensively, especially in the San Francisco Bul- 
letin, where he speaks of the "absolute inaccuracy" of 
my writings. Here are some of his explanations taken 
from that paper : 

"As general manager of the San Gabriel, I send $2,500 at a 
certain season to my agent in the City of Oaxaca. He opens 
an employment office and calls for a quota of seventy-five 
men. * * * 

"The laborer is given an average of fifty cents (Mexican) a 
week until the debt he owes the company is liquidated. The 
company is not obliged to pay him this amount, but does so to 
keep him contented. He is usually contracted for for periods 
ranging from six months to three years. In three years, if he 
is reasonably industrious and saving, he will not only have paid 
off his debt money, but he will draw his liquidation with money 
in his pocket. * * * 

"The sum total is this: The peon slavery in Mexico might 
be called slavery in the strictest sense of the word, but as long 
as the laborer is under contract to the plantation owner he is 
being done an inestimable good. It is the plantation owners 
who prevent the peon — ordinarily worthless humans with no 
profession— from becoming public charges. Unwittingly perhaps 


they block a lawless and irresponsible element by teaching the 
peon to use his hands and brain." 

Mr. Edward H. Thompson was for many years the 
American consul in Yucatan. Mr. Thompson owns a 
henequen plantation, and, though I did not visit it, I was 
informed that he held slaves under exactly the same 
conditions as do the henequen kings. Immediately fol- 
lowing the publication of my first article Mr. Thompson 
issued a long statement that was published in so many 
papers that I imagine a news syndicate was employed to 
circulate it. Mr. Thompson began by denouncing my 
article as "outrageous in its statements and absolutely 
false in many details." But read what Mr. Thompson 
himself says are the facts : 

"Reduced to its lowest terms and looking at the matter without 
the desire to produce a sensational magazine article, the so- 
called slavery becomes one of simple contract convenience to 
both parties. The native needs the money, or thinks he does, 
while the planter needs the labor of the native servant. 

"The indebted servant is held more or less strictly to the 
terms of the verbal and implied contract, according to the 
personal equation of the planter or his representative. This 
general fact is equally true in all of the great industries of our 
country as well as in Yucatan. 

"I do not seek to defend the system of indebted labor. It 
is bad in theory and worse in practice. It is bad for the 
planter because it locks up capital that could otherwise be 
employed in developing the resources of the plantation. It is 
worse for the servant, because by reason of it he learns to lean 
too much on the powerful protection of his creditor-em- 

Reading those lines with discrimination, you will ob- 
serve that Mr. Thompson admits that debt slavery is 
prevalent in Yucatan, admits that a similar system exists 
all over Mexico, and admits that it is a system that can- 
not be defended. They why does he defend it ? 


Mr. C. V. Cooper, an American land promoter, writ- 
ing in the Portland Oregonian, says that he read my 
articles with "amusement mixed with indignation," and 
decided that they were "grossly exaggerated." But he 
made some admissions. Said he: 

"The Mexican peon law provides that if a servant for any 

reason is indebted to his employer, he must remain and work 
out the debt at a wage agreed upon between the employer and 
the employe." 

But, Mr. Cooper, if the employe must remain, how 
can he have any say as to how much the wage which 
you declare is "agreed upon" shall be ? 

Very naively Mr. Cooper explains the freedom of the 
peon. Says he: 

"There is nothing compulsory in his service at all. If he does 
not like his surroundings or his treatment, he is at perfect 
liberty to obtain the amount of his debt from anyone else and 
leave the property." 

From whom else, Mr. Cooper? Oh, the sweet, sweet 
liberty of Mexico! 

It is too bad that Mr. Cooper should have marred such 
a rosy picture as he paints by admitting the man-hunt- 
ing part of the system. But he does : 

"Should a man run away, we can have him brought back if 
the amount of the debt involved is worth while. The expense 
of his capture is paid by the plantation and added to his 

Yet Mr. Cooper finally avers: 

"The peons are perfectly free to come and go as they choose, 
with the only legal proviso that they do not swindle any one out 
of money that has been advanced them in good faith." 

Mr. Cooper thought so well of his defense of the 
Diaz system that he— or someone else — went to the ex- 
pense of having it printed in pamphlet form and cir- 
culated about the country. There were other pam- 


phleteers besides Mr. Cooper, too, who rushed to the 
defense of Mexico. One was Mr. E. S. Smith of Tippe- 
canoe, Iowa, the man who wired President Taft begging 
him to deny The American Magazine the mails, and 
that before my first article went to press. Mr. Smith 
wrote "The Truth About Mexico," which The Bankers' 
Magazine printed, and the same matter was afterwards 
put into a pamphlet. Mr. Smith was so extravagant 
in his denials of imperfections in Mexican institutions 
and so glowing in his descriptions of Mexico's "ideal" 
government that one of that government's warmest de- 
fenders. The Mexican Herald, was revolted by the pro- 
duction and printed a long editorial in which it prayed 
that Mexico might be delivered of such friends as Mr. 

Mr. Giiillermo Hall, another American who is inter- 
ested in Mexican properites, considers my articles a 
"great injustice," inasmuch as, since the poor Mexican 
knows nothing of freedom, he must be perfectly well off 
as a slave. The Tucson, Arizona, Citizen quoted Mr. 
Hall as follows : 

"The cold facts stated in black type might seem preposterou^\ \ 
to the Americans of this country, whose training and environ- \ 
ment are so different * * * j^ the lower country along the 
border, for instance, the so-called peon has no conception of 
the liberty we enjoy in America. He absolutely doesn't know 
what it means. The property owners there are compelled by 
force of circumstances to maintain, at present, a sort of feudal- ' 
ism over him." 

Mr. Dwight E. Woodbridge, a planter and writer, 
wrote at length in defense of Mexican slavery in the 
Mining World, the organ of the American Mine Owners' 
organization. Here are some excerpts : 

"Unquestionably there are brutalities and savageness in 
Mexico. Outrages are committed there, both on the prisoners 


taken from confinement to haciendas and on the Yaquis. * * * 
I am interested in a large plantation in southern Mexico, where 
we have some 300 Yaqui laborers. 

"Throughout the Yaqui country I have seen such things as 
are pictured in the magazine, passed the bodies of men hanging 
to trees, sometimes mutilated; have seen hundreds of tame 
Yaquis herded in jails to be sent to the plantations of Yucatan, 
or Tabasco, or Veracruz ; have heard of worse things. 

"There is a certain sort of peonage in Mexico. One may call 
it slavery if he will, and not be far from the truth. It is, in 
fact, illegal, and no contracts under it can be enforced in the 
courts. The slave is a slave so long as he is working out his 

Of course none of the defenders of Mexico admit all 
of my assertions, and all of them, naturally, seek to 
minimize the horrors of the slave system — otherv^^ise 
they could not be defending it. But you will see that 
one admits one thing and another another until the whole 
story is confessed as true. 

Among the American publishers who rushed to the 
defense of Diaz was Mr. William Randolph Hearst. 
Mr. Hearst sent a writer, Otheman Stevens, to Mexico 
to gather material to prove that Mexico is not barbarous. 
Valiantly did Mr. Stevens attempt to carry out his trust, 
but in dealing with the contract slavery system he suc- 
ceeded in admitting most of the essential points, and was 
able to defend only on the plea of capitalistic "necessity." 
Some of his admissions, as they appeared in the Cos- 
mopolitan Magazine of March, 1910, are: 

"To offset these prospects of early industrial advances is the 
contract labor system, and the contract labor system in Mexico 
is a bad institution. 

"Its repulsive features to our eyes is the fact that, while the 
laborer enters voluntarily into the contract, the law gives the 
employer a right over the workman's person in the enforcement 
of the contract. Theoretically, there is no argument to be made 
for contract labor. 


"If an enganchado rebels or is insolent or lazy, the lithe rod 
in the hands of the 'boss' of the gang winds around him, and 
he soon understands that he must fulfill his part of the con- 
tract. If he runs away, a reward of ten dollars is paid to who- 
ever brings him back. His clothes are taken away from him, 
and he is clad in a gunny sack with holes cut for arms and 

Mr. Stevens* defense of this system, as published in 
the same number of the same magazine, is: 

"Outside of the restrictions of dogmatic controversy there 
is only one phase that makes a wrong right, and that is neces- 
sity. A legal enforcement of a contract by using physical force 
over the person is in itself wrong. On the other hand, legisla- 
tion now prohibiting contract labor would work a greater wrong, 
for it would destroy millions of investments, would retard a 
most beneficent and rapid development of the richest region on 
this continent, if not in the world, and would, by reflexes, work 
more harm to the very people it would intend to aid than an 
indefinite continuance of the present conditions." 

This is exactly the logic the slave-driving cotton plant- 
ers of our southern states used before the Civil War. 
It will hardly "go" with anyone who has not money in- 
vested in Mexican plantations which use enganchados. 

I do not wish to tire the reader, but, aside from the 
fact that I have been most violently attacked, I have 
a reason for wishing to go a little deeper into this mat- 
ter of critics and corroboration. Let us get right down 
into Mexico itself, down to the very newspapers that 
are paid a specified sum each week in exchange for 
manufacturing public opinion favorable to President 
Diaz and his system. In Mexico City there are two 
daily newspapers printed in English, the Herald and 
the Record. Both are prosperous and well edited, ano 
both are open defenders of the Mexican government 
The Herald, especially, repeatedly denounced my articles. 


I believe that I can show as many as fifty clippings from 
this paper alone which, in one way or another, attempted 
to cast doubt upon my statements. Nevertheless, in the 
course of the daily publication of the news, or in the 
very campaign of defense, both of these papers have, 
since the first appearance of "Barbarous Mexico," 
printed matter which convincingly confirmed my charges. 
October 23, 1909, the Daily Record dared to print an 
article from the pen of Dr. Luis Lara y Pardo, one of 
the best-known of Mexican writers, in which he admitted 
that my indictment was true. A few lines from the 
article will suffice. Said Dr. Pardo: 

"The regime of slavery continues under the cloak of the loan 
laws. Peons are sold by one hacendado to another under the 
pretext that the money that has been advanced must be paid. 
In the capital of the Republic itself traffic in human flesh has 
been engaged in. 

"On the haciendas the peons live in the most horrible manner. 
They are crowded into lodgings dirtier than a stable and are 
maltreated. The hacendado metes out justice to the peon, who 
is even denied the right to protest." 

A widespread fear among the common people of be- 
ing ensnared as enganchados would argue not only that 
the system is extensive, but that it is fraught with great 
hardship. January 6, 1910, the Mexican Daily Record 
published a news item which indicated that this is true, 
and also suggested one way in which the government 
plays into the hands of the labor snarers. Shorn of its 
headlines, the item is : 

"Five hundred contract laborers intended to work at con- 
struction camps on the Veracruz and Pacific railroad, are 
encamped near Buenavista station as a result of their unwilling- 
ness to sign a formal contract, and the law prohibiting their 
being taken into another state without such contract. 

"Governor Landa y Escandon yesterday afternoon refused to 


grant the request of R. P. Davis and F. Villademoros, signers 
of a petition to him to allow the laborers to be shipped out. 
With their wives, children, and all their worldly possessions they 
form a motley camp near the station. 

"In their petition, Davis and Villademoros claim that the rail- 
road company is suffering large losses by the detention of the 
laborers and that many of the latter fear if they sign contracts 
they will he shipped to sugar and coffee plantations and held 
until the expiration of the specified terms. 

Governor Landa refused the request on the ground that 
the law requires such a formality to protect the laborers, while 
the reason for waiving it did not appear logical." 

The Mexican Herald furnishes more corroboration 
than the Mexican Record. Commenting editorially upon 
the announcements of "Barbarous Mexico," it said, 
August 27, 1909: 

"In this journal during recent years, and in many Mexican 
papers as well, the abuses of the peonage system, and the ill- 
treatment of los enganchados or contract laborers in some 
regions, have been most frankly dealt with. The enlightened 
Governor of Chiapas has denounced the evils of peonage in his 
state and has received the thanks of the patriotic press of the 
country. That there are dark spots in agricultural labor condi- 
tions, no fair-minded person of wide information seeks to deny." 

About the same time Paul Hudson, general manager 
of the paper, was quoted in a New York interview as 
saying that my exposures "do not admit of categorical 
denial." And in the Mexican Herald of May 9, 1910, 
J. Torrey Conner, writing in praise of General Diaz, 
says: "Slavery, doubtless, is known to exist in Mexico 
— that is generally understood." In February, 1909, in 
an editorial item upon the political situation in the state 
of Morelos, the Mexican Herald went so far as to admit 
the killing of debt laborers by their masters. To quote 
it exactly: 

"It is undeniable that their (the planters') management is at 


times severe. When angry they heap abuse on the peons and 
even maltreat them physically. In some instances they have, in 
times not so distant, even taken the lives of native laborers 
who have incensed them, and have gone scot free." 

August 27, 1909, in an article on "The Enganchado" 
the Herald said, in part: 

"The enganchados are guarded most carefully, for there is the 
ever present danger of their running away on the slightest 
opportunity. Often the cahos are cruel in their treatment, a fact 
which is to be condemned. * * * It is not in keeping here 
to mention the abuses which are alleged to have been practiced 
against the enganchados, the treatment of men so shamelessly 
that they die, the raping of the women, the deprivation of the 
laborers of any means of bathing, and the unsanitary condition 
of their houses, leading on to noxious diseases. * * * -^q 
planter who knows the real history of the system, or the inside 
facts of the neighboring plantations, will deny for a moment the 
worst stories of the enganchado are true. 

"Plantation men do not take the enganchado labor because 
they like it. Nor do they prefer it to any other, even the 
lowest. But there is a certain advantage in it, as one planter 
said to the writer, with a queer thrill in his voice : *When you've 
got 'em they're yours, and have to do what you want them to do. 
If they don't, you can kill them.'" 

Such corroboration from a subsidized supporter of the 
system itself would seem rather embarrassing to those 
individuals v^^ho were so zealous as publicly to announce 
that my portrayal of Mexican slavery was a fabrication. 
It will be seen that my exposures of Mexican slavery 
were not the first to be circulated in print; they were 
merely the first to be circulated widely, and they went 
into considerably more detail than anything that had 
gone before. The little item that I have just quoted 
admits practically all the worst features which I dealt 
with in my articles. 


Here is an ordinary news item clipped from the Mex- 
ican Herald of May 30, 1909: 

"Angel Contreras, an enganchado, belonging to a good family, 
is reported to have been brutally killed by being beaten to death 
with staves at the nearby San Francisco sugar mills in the 
El Naranjal municipality. Local newspapers state that other 
similar crimes have been committed at that place." 

This is the first information I have had that men are 
beaten to death in the sugar mills of Mexico. 

I present a news item from the Mexican Herald which 
describes better than I did in my fourth chapter one 
of the methods pursued by labor snarers to get their 
fish into the net. The newspaper prints the story as if 
the occurrence were unusual ; I reprint it in full because 
it is typical. The only difference is that in this particular 
case the victim was rescued and the labor agent was 
jailed for a day or two only because it chanced that the 
victim had been an employe of the national Department 
of Foreign Relations. Had the authorities wished to 
stop this sort of man-stealing, as the Herald would 
have us believe, why did they not arrest the keepers of 
the other "casas de enganchadores" which they found, 
and liberate the prisoners? But here is the item, head- 
lines and all: 

"BOY OF 16 








"When Felipe Hernandez, agent of a company of labor con- 
tractors, commonly referred to in Mexico as 'enganchadores,' 


met sixteen-year-old Benito Juarez in the Alameda on Wednes- 
day afternoon and induced him by brilliant promises of work 
and wages to accompany him to a house on la Calle de Violeta, 
he (Hernandez) made one of the serious mistakes of his life. 
By refusing to allow young Benito to go out of the house after 
he had once entered it, Hernandez violated one of the federal 
statutes and he is now being held in the fifth comisaria to 
answer a charge of illegal detention. 

"Hernandez claims that he is the employe of one Leandro 
Lopez, who is securing laborers for the Oaxaquena Plantation 
Company, an American concern operating an extensive hacienda 
on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, on the state boundary of Vera- 
cruz, not far from Santa Lucrecia. Both men are Spaniards. 
The whereabouts of the boy, Benito Juarez, was not definitely 
ascertained until yesterday afternoon, when his release was 
secured upon the demand of Subcomisario Bustamante of the 
fifth comisaria, who subsequently arrested Hernandez after the 
lad's statement had been placed on record at the comisaria. 

THE boy's seduction. 

"On Wednesday afternoon, at about 2 o'clock, young Benito, 
who had been working with his mother, a bread vendor, was 
sitting on one of the benches in the Alameda when, according to 
his account, Hernandez happened along and in a benevolent 
way asked him if he wanted a job at $1.50 a day. The man 
explained that the work was at an alcohol factory near the city 
and that the position was something in the character of time- 
keeping or other clerical work. The lad agreed and was 
induced to accompany his new-found friend to Calle Violeta, 
where the details of his engagement were to be arranged. 

"On the way they stopped at a cheap clothing store, where 
Hernandez purchased a twenty-cent straw hat, a fifty-cent blouse, 
a pair of sandals and a pair of trousers. Arrived at the house 
on Calle Violeta young Juarez received orders to put on the peon 
clothing and to relinquish his own suit of good apparel. In the 
house where he found himself he encountered three or four 
other men in the same situation with himself who apprized him 
of the fact that he was now a contract laborer destined for a 
plantation in the hot country. 


"Until a short time ago Benito had been employed as a mozo 


in the office of the department of foreign relations on the Paseo 
de la Reforma and it was a fairly good suit of clothing that he 
had worn while working there that he exchanged for the peon's 
outfit. It was also through the charity of his former employer 
in the government office that he was released from his unwilling 
detention in Calle Violeta. 

"The boy's mother, Angela Ramos, who lives at No. 4 Calle 
Zanja, had expected to meet him at the Alameda, where he was 
waiting when Hernandez came along. Not seeing him, she 
started inquiry, which elicited the information that he had been 
seen going away with a man who was supposed to be a labor 
contractor, and she forthwith hunted up Ignacio Arellano, who 
is employed in the foreign relations building, and explained to 
him her trouble. 


"Mr. Arellano, accompanied by Alfredo Marquez, an em- 
ploye of the department of fomento, secured the addresses of 
three establishments commonly known as 'casas de engancha- 
dores,' located variously at Calle de Moctezuma, 7a Calle de 
Magnolia, and la de Violeta. Their experience as related yester- 
day to a representative of The Herald was much the same at 
each place and was about as follows : 

"At each of the labor contractors' 'offices' where they sought 
admission they were refused, being told that they had no such 
individual as the boy in question in their charge. At each place 
the assertion was made that they never contracted persons under 
age. Finding their efforts fruitless, Arellano and Marquez took 
the matter to the fifth comisaria, where it was explained to 
Subcomisario Bustamante, who detailed an officer and two 
secret service men to the places in question with orders to 
search them thoroughly. 


"No particular resistance was made to the entrance of the 
officers at either the Moctezuma or Magnolia street places. In 
the former were about a dozen men who had signed contracts 
to go out of the city to work on plantations, while in the latter 
were about twice the same number. These men are said to have 
claimed that they were refused permission to leave the place 
where they were lodged while waiting transportation to their 
ultimate destinations. 


"At Calle Violeta, however, the door-keeper at first refused 
the officers admission, only submitting when threatened with 
the arrest of every person in the house. Here young Juarez 
was found and was taken to the fifth comisaria for examination. 
As soon as his statement had been taken the arrest of Hernandez 
was ordered, and after his identification by the boy, the latter 
was set at liberty. 

THE boy's account. 

"Recounting his own adventure last night, young Juarez 
described the meeting in the Alameda and the exchange of 
clothing, and continued: 

"'After I entered the house I learned from one of the men 
who was already there that I had been fooled in the promise of 
pay at $1.50 as time-keeper in an alcohol factory, and when I 
asked the man with whom I had come if his promises were not 
correct he said that of course they were not and that I was to go 
to work as a peon on the Oaxaquena plantation at fifty cents per 
day. Then I asked him to let me go, as I did not want to do 
such work, but he would not let me leave the house, saying that I 
owed him five pesos for the clothes he had given me. 

" 'Before that I had told him that I would have to ask my 
mother's permission before I could go. He told me he was in a 
great hurry, so I wrote her a note and gave it to him to be 
delivered. Later he told me my mother had read the note and 
had given her permission, but I have found out since that she 
never received it and was hunting for me at the time. 

"*I was given a peso and five cents as an advance on my 
pay and the next morning I was given twenty-five cents with 
which to buy food, which was sold in the house. All this money 
was charged up against me, to be paid after I went to work, 
as I learned before I left the place. Breakfast, which cost 
thirteen cents, consisted of chile and chicharrones (the crisp 
residue of dried-out pork fat), while dinner, a bowl of soup, 
cost twelve cents. There was no supper. 

"'After I was brought into the house there was brought in a 
man, and a woman who had a year-old baby with her. They are 
there yet. The people in the house still have my clothes, but I 
am pretty glad to get out of going to the hot country, anyway. 
I did not sign any sort of a contract. I did not even see one and 
I do not know whether the others in the place had signed con- 


tracts or not. They all said they had been refused permission to 
leave the house unless they paid back the money which they 
were told they owed.* 


"From the time that the first notice of the infraction of the 
labor law was received by the police officials at the fifth comis- 
aria until the prosecution of Hernandez was put under way 
their activity has demonstrated beyond any question how far the 
government authorities are from connivance in labor abuses 
with which this country has been charged. 

"The Mexican law provides punishment by five years imprison- 
ment for offenses of this character against minors, and expressly 
forbids the signing of contracts by persons under legal age 
binding themselves to work. As there is no legal detention with- 
out process of law, the prospects for a severe punishment of the 
man Hernandez, if the assertions of the lad are found correct, 
seems certain, as he is likely to be made an example of for the 
benefit of other labor contractors disposed to be careless of 
their methods." 

I doubt if I could do better than to end this chapter 
with quotations from official reports of the United 
States government itself. Cold-bloodedly as were the 
succeeding paragraphs written, the statements that they 
contain are yet exceedingly corroborative. They are 
from Bulletin No. 38 of the United States Department 
of Labor, published in January, 1902. I should like to 
quote more extensively, but I take only a few para- 
graphs from pages 42, 43 and 44. 

"In a great many (Mexican) states where tropical products are 
raised the native residents are employed under a contract which 
is compulsory on their part, owing to their being in debt to the 
planter. * * * 

"The system of enforced labor is carried out to its logical 
sequence in the sisal-grass plantations of Yucatan. There, on 
each large plantation, is to be found a body of peons, called 
criados or sirvientes (servants), who, with their families, live 
on the plantations, and in many cases have been born there. 


These criados are bound to the soil by indebtedness, for although 
a mere contract to perform certain services does not impose 
specific performance, it is held in Yucatan that where an 
advance payment has been made either the repayment of the 
money or, in default thereof, the specific performance may be 

"The system of labor enforced by indebtedness seems to 
work in Yucatan to the satisfaction of the planter. The peon 
is compelled to work unless he is able to pay oflf his constantly 
increasing debt, and any attempt at flight or evasion is followed 
by penal retribution. The peon rarely, if ever, achieves inde- 
pendence, and a transference of a workman from one employer 
to another is only effected by means of the new employer 
paying to the former one the amount of the debt contracted. 
The system thus resembles slavery, not only in the compulsion 
under which the peon works, but in the large initial expense 
required of the planter when making his first investment in 

"In the State of Tabasco the conditions of forced labor are 
somewhat different and the difficulty of the labor problem, 
especially from the point of view of the planter, is exceedingly 
aggravated. In Tabasco the law does not permit the same 
remedy as in Yucatan, namely, the enforcement of the specific 
performance of a contract upon which an advance payment has 
been made, but this drawback is more apparent than real, since 
the governmental authority is vested in the hands of the land- 
owning planting classes, and the obligation of contracted peons 
to work for the planters is virtually enforced." 

Is it necessary to ask again, who has been distorting 
the truth, myself or the other fellow? Is there slavery 
in Mexico, and is it widespread? Are men bought and 
sold like mules, locked up at night, hunted down when 
they try to run away, starved, beaten, killed? Surely 
these questions have been answered to the satisfaction 
of every honest reader. But I have not yet answered 
that other question, why — why are so many Americans 
so ready to distort the truth about Mexico? 



If there is any combination of Interests in the United 
States that exercises so powerful an influence over the 
press of this country as does President Diaz of Mexico 
I should like to know its name. 

In a previous chapter I asserted that no publication in 
Mexico dares, no matter what the circumstances, to crit- 
icize President Diaz directly. While the same thing 
cannot, of course, be said of the United States, at least 
this can be said, that there exists a strange, even an 
uncanny, unwillingness on the part of powerful Ameri- 
can publishers to print anything derogatory to the ruler 
of Mexico; that, also, there is manifested a remarkable 
willingness to print matter flattering to the Mexican 

At this writing I do not know of a single book, regu- 
larly published and circulated in the United States, which 
seriously criticizes President Diaz, the man or his sys- 
tem; while I could name at least ten which flatter him 
most extravagantly. Indeed, I do not know of any book 
that has ever been circulated in the United States — that 
is, one put out by one of the regular publishing houses — 
which attempted an extended criticism of President 

And the situation with the magazines is exactly the 
same. While the number of articles containing praise of 
Diaz which have been published in magazines — not to 
mention newspapers — during the past several years have 
undoubtedly run into the hundreds, I do not know of one 
prominent magazine that has prosecuted a criticism of 
the Mexican dictator. 

Is it not an astonishing situation? And what is the 



reason for it? Is it because the system of Diaz is be- 
yond reproach? Or is it because by some mysterious 
power that personage is able to control the press in his 
favor ? 

Look about you. Is there any other statesman or poli- 
tician of the present day, American or foreign, who has 
been accorded a larger proportion of praise and a 
smaller proportion of blame by prominent American 
publishers than President Diaz? 

I say that I do not know of one prominent magazine 
that has prosecuted a criticism of Diaz. Then how about 
The American Magazine? The American Magazine 
began a criticism, truly. And it planned to carry it out. 
Repeatedly it promised its readers that it would deal 
with the political conditions behind the slavery of Mex- 
ico. It hinted that Diaz would be shown in a new light. 
It had the material in its hands — most of the material 
of this book — and it was very bold and unequivocal in 
its announcements. And then — 

The American Magazine proved the point that I am 
making more convincingly than any other instance than 
I can cite. Suddenly my articles were stopped. The po- 
litical investigation was stopped. Other articles were 
substituted, milder articles, good as corroborations of 
the exposures of slavery, but in each and every one of 
these articles there was contained a suggestion that 
President Diaz was not personally to blame for the bar- 
barous conditions that had been held up to the light. 

"Diaz controls all sources of news and the means of trans- 
mitting it. Papers are suppressed or subsidized at the pleasure 
of the government. We know of some of the subsidies paid 
even to important Mexican papers printed in English. The 
real news of Mexico does not get across the border. Books 
that truly describe the present state of things are suppressed 
or bought up even when published in the United States. A 


great Mexico-Diaz myth has been built up by skilfully applied 
influence upon journalism. It is the most astounding case of the 
suppression of truth and the dissemination of untruth that recent 
history affords." 

With these words the editors of The American Maga- 
zine heralded to the world the first of my articles under 
the title of "Barbarous Mexico." 

"Skilfully applied influence upon journalism!" Lit- 
tle did the writer of that pregnant phrase realize how 
pregnant it was. Little did he imagine that before six 
short months were gone that phrase would be as ap- 
plicable to his own publication as to any other. 

What was the skilfully applied influence exerted upon 
The American Magazine? I am not pretending to say. 
But to anyone who will go back and read again the bold 
announcements of the September, October and Novem- 
ber numbers of the magazine — 1909 — read the enthusi- 
astic comments of the editors on the interest aroused 
by the series, the delighted statements of jumping circu- 
lation, the letters of subscribers begging the editors not 
to fear, but to go on with the good work, and then note 
how the magazine sheered away from its program after 
the first of the year, the conclusion that there was some 
kind of "skilfully applied influence" seemed pretty well 

* Since this matter was put in type The American Magazine has 
begrun a second series of articles on Mexico, in whicli it promises to 
follow out the thread of exposure which it dropped several months 
previously. In the October issue, 1910, it prints under the name of 
Alexander Powell an article two-thirds of which had been written 
by me and furnished to The American fifteen months earlier. The 
alleged author did not even take the trouble to re-write the mate- 
rial, and it appears almost word for word as I orig^inally wrote it. 
To my mind this is but a confirmation of my widely circulated 
charges : First, that The American failed to carry out its promises to 
the public because of "skilfully applied influence ;" second, that it 
has gone back to the subject of Mexico only because its readers 
who have read my charges have whipped it into doing so. Finally, 
its publication at this late day of my oriprinal material is proof 
that it has not been "gathering new facts," as announced, and that 
the facts furnished by me in the first place are the most effective as 
well as the most reliable that have yet come into its possession. 


But let us note some of the journalistic antics of some 
other leading publishers. There is William Randolph 
Hearst, for example, proprietor of The Cosmopolitan 
Magazine and numerous daily newspapers in different 
parts of the country. There is no use of dwelling here 
upon the democratic and humanitarian professions of 
Mr. Hearst. Everybody knows that for the United 
States, and doubtless most other countries, he advocates 
democracy, freedom of speech, a free press, universal 
suffrage, regulation of predatory corporations, protec- 
tion of labor. But Mr. Hearst's readers have just 
learned that for Mexico he is in favor of despotism, a 
police ruled press, no suffrage, unbridled corporations, 
and — slavery. I have never seen a more frantic apology 
for these institutions anywhere than is to be found in 
the March, April and May, 1910, numbers of the Cos- 
mopolitan Magazine. 

That Mr. Hearst was personally responsible for the 
publication of these articles is evidenced by an inter- 
view which he gave The Mexican Herald while in Mex- 
ico last March. Says that newspaper, under date of 
March 23: 

"In reference to the stories attacking Mexico, which have 
been largely circulated recently, Mr. Hearst stated that he had 
looked after defending the good name of this country to the 
best of his ability. He placed two of his staff, Otheman 
Stevens and Alfred Henry Lewis, at work on matter pertaining 
to Mexico and much of the material collected by them had 
already appeared in some of his newspapers." 

So headlong was Mr. Hearst^s hurry to the defense 
of Diaz that he did not take time to secure writers fa- 
miliar with the most primary facts about their subject, 
nor give them time to compare notes and avoid con- 
tradictions, nor give his editors time to verify ordinary 


statements. Mr. Lewis' article was prepared so liter- 
ally at the last moment that, when it came, the magazine 
had already been paged and the article had to be put in 
as an insertion, with special paging. A laughable 
feature of the campaign was that, in introducing his 
knights of the defense, the editor of the Cosmopolitan 
moralized at length on the matter of permitting raw and 
untried writers — meaning myself — to handle important 
subjects, and named a list of proven and guaranteed-to- 
be-reliable writers among whom was Mr. Alfred Henry 
Lewis. But when Mr. Lewis came to write! I pray 
that in all this book there is not one mistake one-half as 
ridiculous as any of a dozen in Mr. Lewis' short article. 
Mr. Lewis modestly remarked, near the start, that: 
"Personally, I know as much of Mexico and Mexicans 
as any.'* But the burden of his story was that my 
writings were inspired by Standard Oil, which wanted 
revenge on Diaz for having been "kicked out of Mex- 
ico." Now how Mr. Lewis could have lived in the 
United States during the previous few months and read 
the newspapers without having learned of the oil war 
in Mexico, a war in which at the very time the lines 
were written. Standard Oil seemed on the point of 
forcing its only competitor to sell out to it on unfavor- 
able terms, how Mr. Lewis could have failed to know 
that Standard Oil owns millions of dollars worth of oil 
lands and does a vast majority of the retail oil business 
in Diaz-land, how he could have been ignorant of the 
fact that H. Clay Pierce, head of the Standard Oil cor- 
poration in Mexico, is a director of the National Rail- 
ways of Mexico, the government merged lines, so-called, 
and a close ally of President Diaz, is a little difficult to 
understand. Personally, Mr. Lewis knows as much of 
Mexico and Mexicans as any! Any — ^what? 


Just one more of Mr. Lewis' all-embracing blunders 
in that article. Said he: 

"Search where you will, in every Mexican corner, from the 
Pacific to the gulf, from Yucatan to the Arizona line, you will 
meet no sugar trust to cheat the government with false scales, 
no coal trust to steal the fires from the poor man's chimney, no 
wool or cotton trust to steal the clothes off his back, no beef 
trust to filch the meat from his table, no leather trust to take 
the shoes off his feet. * * * The trusts do not exist in 

Which proves that Mr. Lewis does not know the first 
principle upon which Mexican finance and Mexican com- 
mercial life is based. Not only does the same financial 
ring which monopolizes the great industries of the Uni- 
ted States monopolize those same industries in Mexico 
— I shall presently enumerate some of them — but every 
state and locality has its minor trusts which control the 
necessities of life in their field a great deal more com- 
pletely than such necessities are controlled in this coun- 
try. Mr. Lewis does not seem to know that the Mexican 
government is openly in the trust business, that by sale 
and gift of special privileges known as "concessions" 
it creates and maintains trusts of high and low degree. 
Personally, Mr. Lewis knows as much of Mexico and 
Mexicans as any! 

Just a slip or two from Mr. Stevens, taken almost at 

"There is no terrifying labor question to make the investor 
hesitate. A strike is unknown, and there is no danger of a 
shortage of labor, skilled or unskilled." 

And another: 

"No bank in Mexico can fail, no bank-note can be worthless, 
and no depositor can possibly lose his money, no matter what 
fatality may befall the bank with which he has his account." 


As to the first statement, I have answered it in the 
chapter, "Four Mexican Strikes." Three of these strikes 
are famous and there is no excuse for Mr. Stevens' 
having heard of none of them. As to the second state- 
ment, there are some hundreds of Americans who are 
just now fervently wishing it were really true — fer- 
vently wishing that they could get a settlement on the 
basis of twenty-five cents on the dollar. In February, 
1910, about the time Mr. Stevens was penning so glow- 
ingly, 'the United States Bank of Mexico, the largest 
bank in the country which catered to Americans, was 
wrecked in exactly the same way as most American bank 
wrecks are made — by misappropriation of funds to sup- 
port a speculative scheme. The bank went to smash, 
the president went to jail, the depositors did not get 
their money and at this writing there seems little chance 
of their getting any of it. Certainly they will never get 
all or half of it. And this was not the only disaster of 
the sort that has lately occurred in Mexico. About May 
1, 1910, another American bank, the Federal Banking 
Company, went to smash and its cashier, Robert E. 
Crump, went to jail. The fact is that there was no 
ground for Mr. Stevens' statement whatsoever. 

To quote all of Mr. Stevens' blunders would be to 
quote most of his three articles. He went to Mexico 
to prepare a defense of Diaz and he did not take the 
trouble to put a liberal sprinkling of facts in his de- 
fense. He was taken in charge by agents of Diaz and 
he wrote down what they told him to write. He was 
even taken in on the little yarn about the Yucatan slave 
who got his master into jail, a yarn which had done duty 
before. The story runs that a hcncquen king beat one of 
his laborers, the laborer appealed to a justice of the 
peace, who arrested and fined the master. The truth 


of the incident was — and my authority is most reliable 
— that the slave had run away, was caught by a planter 
other than his owner, who attempted to hold him quietly 
as his own. In the course of the day's work the slave 
was badly beaten, and it was in this condition that his 
real owner found him. The real owner secured the ar- 
rest of the would-be thief, in the name of the slave, and 
so the story of the "equality before the law" of the slave 
and master went out to the world. 

The important thing, however, is not the laughable 
mistakes of Mr. Hearst's writers, but the wherefore of 
Mr. Hearst's putting his printing presses so unreservedly 
into the service of a man and a system such as he would 
not defend for a moment were they to be found in any 
other country. 

But let us mention a few more publications which have 
put themselves in the same class as Mr. Hearst's maga- 
zine. There is Sunset Magazine. In February, 1910, it 
began a series of articles by "Gasper Estrada Gonzalez," 
who is announced as "a stateman who is very close to 
Diaz." There were three articles of fawning flattery. 
Followed an article by Herman Whitaker, in which he 
praised Diaz to the skies and absolved him from all 
blame for the slave atrocities of Mexico. Then came an 
article by a man named Murray, who wrote to justify 
Diaz's extermination of the Yaquis. 

Moody's Magazine ran a series of articles under the 
title, "Mexico as it Is," in which the writer attempted to 
neutralize the effect of "Barbarous Mexico" upon the 
public conscience. I have already mentioned defenses 
which were published in the Bankers' Magazine and in 
the Mining World. In addition, The Overland Monthly, 
The Exporter, many newspapers — like the Los Angeles 


Times — and various smaller publications, as well as 
many private individuals and a book publisher or two 
took up the work of defending their friend Diaz. 

As to the book defense against "Barbarous Mexico," 
little has appeared so far, doubtless because of the 
shortness of time, but there are reports that several 
books are on their way. One of these, it is said, is to be 
by James Creelman, who left the employ of Pearson's 
Magazine at the call of Diaz, hurried to Mexico from 
Turkey, and spent several weeks going over the route 
I described in my articles, in order that he might be 
able to "refute" me with verisimilitude, no doubt. 

The book "Porfirio Diaz," written by Jose F. Godoy, 
whom Diaz recently appointed as his minister to Cuba, 
though it does not refer to my exposures in any way, 
was quite likely hurried out because of them. Here is 
a very expensively printed book, containing nothing that 
has not been printed repeatedly before, except — seventy 
pages of endorsements of Diaz written by prominent 
Americans. Here we have the case of a man, Mr. Godoy, 
who actually went about — or sent about — among sena- 
tors, congressmen, diplomats and cabinet officers, solicit- 
ing kind words for President Diaz. And he got them. 
In looking over this book it seems to me that almost any 
discriminating persons would be moved to inquire what 
moved G. P. Putnam's Sons to issue that hook. Surely 
it was not entirely the hope of profitable sales to the 
general public. 

I know of only one book of criticism of the Diaz sys- 
tem that was put out by a regular American publisher, 
and the criticism in that book was so veiled and so in- 
terspersed with flattery that the American reviewers 
took it for one of the old adulatory sort. Only one of 


them, so the author himself told me, was discerning 
enough to see that it was a book of criticism. "I wrote 
the book that way/' the author said to me, "in the hope 
that it would be allowed to circulate in Mexico." 

But the officials of the Mexican government were 
more discerning than the American book reviewers and 
the book was not allowed to circulate. Not only that, 
but quite suddenly and mysteriously it disappeared from 
the stores in this country and very soon was not to be 
had. Had the book disappeared because it was bought 
by the public, the publishers would be expected to print 
a second edition, but this they declined to do and, though 
flatly asserting that the work was not again to appear, 
they also declined to give the author or other inquirers 
further satisfaction. The book I refer to was the one 
entitled "Porfirio Diaz," written by Rafael DeZayas 
Enriquez and issued by D. Appleton & Co., in 1908. 

Carlo de Fornaro, a Mexican newspaperman, or 
rather, a native of Italy who had spent two years in 
newspaper work in Mexico City, also wrote a book, 
"Diaz, Czar of Mexico," printing it himself because he 
could not find a regular publisher. It was refused cir- 
culation in Mexico and action for criminal libel was at 
once begun against Fornaro in the New York courts. 
To bring this suit, the editor of Diaz's leading news- 
paper, El Imparcial, with Joaquin Casasus, the most 
prominent lawyer of Mexico and former ambassador to 
the United States, hurried from the Mexican capital. 
Among the American lawyers employed as special pros- 
ecutors was Henry W. Taft, brother of the president 
and counsel of the National Railways of Mexico. For- 
naro, being without the means to bring witnesses from 
Mexico to support the charges made in his book, was 


convicted, sent to prison for one year and the book was 
thereafter not circulated in the regular way. In fact, 
immediately after the arrest of Fornaro for some reason 
the New York book stores, at least, refused longer to 
handle the work. The Fornaro incident occurred in 

Perhaps even a more remarkable incident still was that 
of the suppression of "Yucatan, the American Egypt," 
written by Tabor and Frost, Englishmen. After being 
printed in England this book was put out in this coun- 
try by Doubleday, Page & Co., one of our largest and 
most respectable publishers. It was put out in expen- 
sive form and, in the natural course of the book trade, 
should have been purchasable for years after it left the 
presses. But within six months the publishers, replying 
to a would-be purchaser, asserted that the book "has 
gone out of print and absolutely no copies are available!" 
I have the letter myself. The book was almost entirely 
about the ancient ruins of Yucatan, but it contained a 
score or so of pages exposing the slavery of the hene- 
quen plantations — and it had to go. What sort of argu- 
ment was used upon our esteemed and respectable pub- 
lishers to cause them to withdraw the book can be imag- 

These instances are added to the others to show what 
happens when a writer does succeed in getting an ex- 
pose of the Diaz system into print. In this book which 
I am writing I am doing my best to bring out the most 
important facts and at the same time avoid giving valid 
grounds for action at libel. When it appears there will 
be no legal reason why it should not be circulated as the 
majority of books are circulated. Nevertheless, if it is 
extensively offered for sale in the usual way it will be 


the first extended criticism of Diaz and his system to 
be put squarely before the American people. And the 
reason for its being the first will be not because there 
have not been facts that begged to be printed and writers 
that desired to print those facts, but because of that 
"skilfully applied influence upon journalism" which Gen- 
eral Diaz exerts in our land of free speech and free 

Again I come back to the question: What is the 
source of that "influence upon journalism?" Why do 
citizens of the United States, who profess a reverence 
for the principles for which their forefathers of ^(i 
fought, who claim to revere Abraham Lincoln most of all 
for his Emancipation Proclamation, who shudder at the 
labor-baiting of the Congo, at the horrors of Russia's 
Siberia, at the political system of Czar Nicholas, apolo- 
gize for and defend a more cruel slavery, a worse politi- 
cal oppression, a more complete and terrible despotism 
— in Mexico? 

To this question there is only one conceivable answer, 
that for the sake of sordid profits principles of decency 
and humanity, principles which are universally conceded 
as being best for the progress of the world, have been 
set aside. 

By this I do not mean that all of the Americans who 
have expressed admiration for General Diaz have been 
directly bribed to do so by gifts of so many dollars and 
so many cents. By no means. Some publishers and 
some writers have undoubtedly been bought in this way. 
But the vast majority of the active flatterers of Diaz 
have been moved by nothing more than "business rea- 
sons," which, by some persons, will be considered as 
little different from bribery. As to the great mass of the 


Americans who think well of Diaz, and sometimes speak 
well of him — as distinct from what I have called the 
"active flatterers" — they have simply been fooled, de- 
ceived by the consistent press campaign which the oth- 
ers have kept up for, lo, these many years. 

Such American planters as those whom I have quoted 
as defending the Diaz system of slavery may have been 
moved by nothing more reprehensible than a desire to 
prevent my exposures from "hurting the country," or 
"hurting business," meaning their business. In fact, 
I was much surprised that so many actual residents of 
Mexico came forward in support of my statements as 
did, inasmuch as nearly every American in Mexico has 
some land which he has obtained for a very low price — 
or for nothing at all — and which he wishes to sell at 
a profit. Or he has a stock-selling scheme, in a rubber 
plantation, for example, with which he is trying to se- 
cure the good money of widows and orphans, poor 
school teachers, small business men and working peo- 
ple. Just as the average American real estate boomer 
"boosts his town," decries exposures of political cor* 
ruption as "hurting business," even suppresses news of 
plague, earthquake fatalities and such things, so the 
American in Mexico, knowing that exposures of slavery 
and political instability will frighten away investments 
and perhaps lose him some profitable deals, seldom hes- 
itates to argue that political and industrial conditions in 
the country are ideal. The more property a man owns 
in Mexico the less likely is he to tell the truth about 
the country. 

As to the American publishers, the "business reasons" 
are usually found either In the interest of the publisher 
himself in some property or "concession" in Mexico, 


or in his business connection with some other person* 
of means who hold such properties or such concessions- 
And through one or the other of these avenues un- 
doubtedly nearly all of our largest publishers, of books, 
magazines or newspapers, are touched. The situation 
in my home town may be a little exceptional, but from 
it may be guessed the extent of the "skilfully applied 
influence" of Diaz that probably extends over the whole 
country. I reside in Los Angeles, California, where 
there are five daily newspapers. At the time of the 
high-handed persecutions of Magon, Villarreal and Riv- 
era, Sarabia, De Lara, Modesto Diaz, Arizmendez, 
Ulibarri and other Mexicans, political enetpies of Diaz, 
in 1907, it became plain that the muzzle was on all of 
those newspapers. Suspicion was confirmed by a man- 
aging editor of one of them, who said in confidence to 
me and to others: 

"The newspapers of this town could get those men out 
of jail in twenty-four hours if they went at it. But they 
won't go at it because the owners of all five are inter- 
ested in concessions in Mexico. You see we're up against 
it. We don't dare to say a word, for if we did Diaz 
would get hack at us." 

Two of these newspaper owners were Mr. Hearst 
himself and Harrison Gray Otis, the latter proprietor of 
the well known Los Angeles Times. Each of these men 
own more than a million acres of Mexican land, which 
they are generally credited with securing from the Mex- 
ican government for nothing or practically nothing. In 
addition to owning a magnificent stock ranch, Mr. 
Hearst owns vast oil lands and, in addition, is credited 
with being involved financially with the Southern Pacific 
Railroad Company, which is one of the hugest bene- 
ficiaries of the Diaz government. As to the magnifi- 


cence of Mr. Hearst's stock ranch, permit me to repro- 
duce an item which was published in the Mexican Her- 
ald, August 24, 1908. 




Within the Enclosure Graze 60,000 Herefords and 125,000 
Head of Sheep — ^Thousands of Horses and Hogs are Raised 

"With over a million acres of the finest agricultural and 
grazing land, with large herds of blooded cattle, horses and 
sheep, roaming over this vast domain, the big Hearst cattle 
ranch and farm in Chihuahua is the peer of any such estate in 
the world, whether it lies in the great corn belt of Illinois or 
Kansas, or stretches for miles across the wind-swept prairies of 
Texas or Oklahoma. Two hundred and fifty miles of barbed 
wire fence enclose a portion of this vast ranch and within the 
enclosure graze 60,000 thoroughbred Herefords, 125,000 fine 
sheep, and many thousand head of horses and hogs. A modern, 
up-to-date ranch and farm, whose crops are unexcelled in the 
world, and whose stock is famous from end to end of the 
Republic, this ranch is convincing evidence of the great future 
which is in store for the agricultural and stock raising industry 
of Mexico." 

Thus spoke E. Kirby Smith, a well-known planter of Cam- 
peche, who is spending a few days in the city. Mr. Kirby 
Smith has just returned from an extended trip into Chihuahua, 
where he spent several days on the great Hearst ranch. 

"This ranch," said Mr. Kirby Smith, "is typical of the great 
modern stock farms and presents a glorious picture as to what 
may be expected from enterprises of this character, if properly 
conducted, in this Republic. The stock is of the best. Imported 
jacks and stallions, thoroughbred brood mares and thoroughbred 
cattle dot the ranch from end to end. 

"Vast amounts of corn and potatoes are raised, and in potatoes 
alone fortunes are going to be made by the farmers of northern 


As to the Sunset Magazine, it is owned outright by 
the Southern Pacific Railroad company, and Moody's 
Magazine, the Bankers' Magazine, The Exporter, and 
the Mining World are all known to be dominated by 
Wall street Interests. And what, pray, have the South- 
ern Pacific Railroad and Wall street to do with Diaz and 
Mexico ? 

The answer is — everything. While Wall street has 
more or less conflicting interests in the looting of the 
United States, Wall street is ONE when it comes to the 
looting of Mexico. This is the chief reason why Amer- 
ican publishers are so nearly one when it comes to the 
flattering of Diaz. Wall street and Diaz are business 
partners and the American press is an appendage of the 
Diaz press bureau. Through ownership and near owner- 
ship of magazines, newspapers and publishing houses, 
and through the power of shifting advertising patron- 
age. Wall street has up to this moment been able to 
suppress the truth and maintain a lie about Diaz and 



The United States is a partner in the slavery of Mex- 
ico. After freeing his black slaves Uncle Sam, at the 
end of half a century, has become a slaver again. Un- 
cle Sam has gone to slave-driving in a foreign country. 

No, I shall not charge this to Uncle Sam, the genial, 
liberty-loving fellow citizen of our childhood. I would 
rather say that Uncle Sam is dead and that another is 
masquerading in his place — a counterfeit Uncle Sam 
who has so far deceived the people into believing that 
he is the real one. It is that person whom I charge with 
being a slaver. 

This is a strong statement, but I believe that the facts 
justify it. The United States is responsible in part for 
the extension of the system of slavery in Mexico; sec- 
ond, it is responsible as the determining force in the 
continuation of that slavery; third, it is responsible 
knowingly for these things. 

When I say the United States I do not mean a few 
minor and irresponsible American officials. Nor do I 
mean the American nation — which, in my humble judg- 
ment, is unjustly charged with the crimes of some per- 
sons over whom, under conditions as they exist, it has 
no control. I use the term in its most literal and exact 
sense. I mean the organized power which officially rep- 
resents this country at home and abroad. I mean the 
Federal Government and the Interests that control the 
Federal Government. 

Adherents of a certain political cult in this country 
are wont to declare that chattel slavery was abolished in 



the United States because it ceased to be profitable. 
Without commenting on the truth or fallacy of this as- 
sertion, I aver that there are plenty of Americans who 
are prepared to prove that slavery is profitable in Mex- 
ico. Because it is considered profitable, these Ameri- 
cans have, in various ways, had a hand in the extension 
of the institution. Desiring to perpetuate Mexican 
slavery and considering General Diaz a necessary factor 
in that perpetuation, they have given him their undivided 
support. By their control of the press they have glori- 
fied his name, when otherwise his name should be by 
right a stench in the nostrils of the world. But they 
have gone much farther than this. By their control of 
the political machinery of their government, the United 
States government, they have held him in his place when 
otherwise he would have fallen. Most effectively has 
the police power of this country been used to destroy 
a movement of Mexicans for the abolition of Mexican 
slavery and to keep the chief slave-driver of Barbarous 
Mexico, Porfirio Diaz, upon his throne. 

Still another step can we go in these generalizations. 
By making itself an indispensable factor in his continua- 
tion in the governmental power, through its business 
partnership, its press conspiracy and its police and mil- 
itary alliance, the United States has virtually reduced 
Diaz to a political dependency, and by so doing has vir- 
tually transformed Mexico into a slave colony of the 
United States. 

As I have already suggested, these are generalizations, 
but if I did not believe that the facts set forth in this and 
the succeeding chapter fully justified each and every 
one of them, I would not make them. 

Pardon me for again referring to the remarkable de- 
fense of Mexican slavery and Mexican despotism which 



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we find in the United States, inasmuch as it is itself a 
strong presumption of guilty partnership in that slavery 
and despotism. What publication or individual in the 
United States, pray you, was ever known to defend the 
system of political oppression in Russia? What publi- 
cation or individual in the United States was ever known 
to excuse the slave atrocities of the Congo Free State? 
How many Americans are in the habit of singing paeans 
of praise to Czar Nicholas or the late King Leopold? 

Americans of whatever class not only do not dare to 
do these things, but they do not care to do them. But 
what a difference when it comes to Mexico! Here 
slavery is sacred. Here autocracy is deified. 

It will not do to deny the honesty of the comparison be- 
tween Mexico and Russia or the Congo. For every 
worshipper of Diaz knows that he is an autocrat and 
a slave-driver and enough of them admit it to leave no 
ground for doubt that they know it. 

What, then, is the reason for this strange diversion 
of attitude? Why do so many prostrate themselves be- 
fore the Czar of Mexico and none prostrate themselves 
before the Czar of Russia? Why is America flooded 
with books hailing the Mexican autocrat as the greatest 
man of the age while it is impossible to buy a single book, 
regularly published and circulated, that seriously criti- 
cizes him? 

The inference is inevitable that it is because Diaz is 
the Golden Calf in but another form, that Americans 
are profiting by Mexican slavery and are exerting them- 
selves to maintain it. 

But there are easily provable facts that carry us far 
beyond any mere inference, however logical it may be. 

What is the most universal reply that has been made 
to my criticisms of Mexico and Mexico's ruler? That 


there are $900,000,000 of American capital invested in 

To the Powers that Be in the United States the nine 
hundred million dollars of American capital form a con- 
clusive argument against any criticism of President Diaz. 
They are an overwhelming defense of Mexican slavery. 

"Hush ! Hush !" the word goes about. "Why, we have 
nine hundred million dollars grinding out profits down 
there!" And the American publishers obediently hush. 

In that $900,000,000 of American capital in Mexico 
is to be found the full explanation not only of the 
American defense of the Mexican government, but also 
of the political dependency of Diaz upon the Powers 
that Be in this country. Wherever capital flows capital 
controls the government. This doctrine is recognized 
everywhere and by all men who have as much as half 
an eye for the lessons that the world is writing. The 
last decade or two has proved it in every country where 
large aggregations of capital have gathered. 

No wonder there is a growing anti-American senti- 
ment in Mexico. The Mexican people are naturally 
patriotic. They have gone through tremendous trials 
to throw off the foreign yoke in past generations and 
they are unwilling to bend beneath the foreign yoke to- 
day. They want the opportunity of working out their 
own national destiny as a separate people. They look 
upon the United States as a great colossus which is 
about to seize them and bend them to its will. 

And they are right. American capital in Mexico will 
not be denied. The partnership of Diaz and American 
capital has wrecked Mexico as a national entity. The 
United States government, as long as it represents Amer- 
ican capital — and the most rampant hypocrite will hardly 
deny that it does today — ^will have a deciding voice in 


Mexican affairs. From the viewpoint of patriotic Mex- 
icans the outlook is melancholy indeed. 

Let us cast our eyes over Mexico and see v^hat some 
of that $900,000,000 of American capital is doing there. 

The Morgan-Guggenheim copper merger is in abso- 
lute control of the copper output of Mexico. 

M- Guggenheim Sons own all the large smelters in 
Mexico, as well as vast mining properties. They occupy 
the same powerful position in the mining industry gen- 
erally in Mexico as they occupy in the United States. 

The Standard Oil company, under the name of the 
Waters-Pierce, with many subsidiary corporations, con- 
trols a vastly major portion of the crude oil flow of Mex- 
ico. It controls a still greater portion of the wholesale 
and retail trade in oil — ninety per cent of it, so its man- 
agers claim. At the present writing there is an oil war 
in Mexico caused by an attempt of the only other oil 
distributing concern in the country — controlled by the 
Pearsons — to force the Standard to buy it out at a 
favorable price. The situation predicts an early victory 
for the Standard, after which its monopoly will be com- 

Agents of the American Sugar Trust have just se- 
cured from the Federal and State governments conces- 
sions for the production of sugar beets and beet sugar 
so favorable as to insure it a complete monopoly of the 
Mexican sugar business within the next ten years. 

The Tnter-Continental Rubber company — in other 
words, The American Rubber Trust — is in possession of 
millions of acres of rubber lands, the best in Mexico. 

The Wells-Fargo Express company, the property of 
the Southern Pacific Railroad, through its partnership 
with the government, holds an absolute monopoly of 
the express carrying business of Mexico. 


E. N. Brown, president of the National Railways of 
Mexico and a satellite of H. Clay Pierce and the late 
E. H. Harriman, is a member of the board of directors 
of the Banco Nacional, which is by far the largest finan- 
cial institution in Mexico, a concern that has over fifty 
branches, in which all the chief members of the Diaz 
financial camarilla are interested and through which finan- 
cial deals of the Mexican government are transacted. 

Finally, the Southern Pacific Railroad and allied Har- 
riman heirs, despite the much vaunted government rail- 
way merger, own outright or control by virtue of near- 
ownership, three-fourths of the main line railway mile- 
age of Mexico, which enables it today to impose as ab- 
solute a monopoly in restraint of trade as exists in the 
case of any railway combination in the United States. 

These are merely some of the largest aggregations of 
American capital in Mexico. For example, the Harri- 
man heirs own two and one-half millions acres of oil 
land in the Tampico country, and a number of other 
Americans own properties running into the millions of 
acres. Americans are involved in the combinations 
which control the flour and meat trades of Mexico. 
The purely trade interests are themselves considerable. 
Eighty per cent of Mexican exports come to the United 
States and sixty-six per cent of Mexican imports are 
sent to her by us, the American trade with Mexico 
totaling some $75,000,000 a year. 

So you see how it is in Mexico. The Americanization 
of Mexico of which Wall Street boasts, is being accom- 
plished and accomplished with a vengeance. 

It were hardly worth while to pause at this juncture 
and discuss the question why Mexicans did not get in 
on the ground floor and control these industries. It is 
not, as numerous writers would have us believe, be- 


cause Americans are the only intelligent people in the 
world and because God made Mexicans a stupid peo- 
ple and intended that they should be governed by their 
superiors. One very good reason why Diaz delivered 
his country into the hands of Americans was that Amer- 
icans had more money to pay for special privileges. And 
Americans had more money because, while all Mexicans 
were becoming impoverished by the war for the over- 
throw of the foreigner, Maximilian, thousands of Amer- 
icans were making fortunes by means of grafting army 
contracts involved in our Civil War. 

Let me present an instance or two of the way in which 
Americans are contributing to the extension of slavery. 

Take the Yaqui atrocities, for example. Vice-presi- 
dent Corral, who was then in control of the government 
of the state of Sonora, stirred up a Yaqui war because 
he saw an opportunity to get the Yaqui lands and sell 
them at a good price to American capitalists. The 
Yaqui country is rich in both mining and agricultural 
possibilities. American capitalists bought the lands 
while the Yaquis were still on them, then stimulated 
the war of extermination and finally instigated the 
scheme to deport them into slavery in Yucatan. 

But American capital did not stop even there. It fol- 
lowed the Yaqui women and children away from their 
homes. It sazv families dismembered, women forced 
into wifehood with Chinamen, men beaten to death. It 
saw these things, encouraged them and covered them up 
from the eyes of the world because of its interest in the 
price of sisal hemp, because it feared that with the pass- 
ing of slave labor the price of sisal hemp would rise. 
The American Cordage Trust, a ramification of Stand- 
ard Oil, absorbs over half the henequen e\;port of Yu- 


catan. The Standard Oil press declares there is no slav- 
ery in Mexico. Governor Fred N. Warner , of Michi- 
gan, publicly denied my expose of slavery in Yucatan. 
Governor Warner is interested in contracts involving 
the purchase annually of half a million dollars worth 
of sisal hemp from the slave kings of Yucatan. 

Also, Americans work the slaves — ^buy them, drive 
them, lock them up at night, beat them, kill them, ex- 
actly as do other employers of labor in Mexico. And 
they admit that they do these things. In my possession 
are scores of admissions by American planters that they 
employ labor which is essentially slave labor. All over 
the tropical section of Mexico, on the plantations of rub- 
ber, sugar-cane, tropical fruits — everywhere — you will 
find Americans buying, beating, imprisoning, killing 

Let me quote you just one interview I had with a 
well known and popular American of Diaz's metropolis, 
a man who for five years ran a large plantation near 
Santa Lucrecia 

"When we needed a lot of enganchados" he told me, 
*'all we had to do was to wire to one of the numerous 
enganchadores in Mexico, saying: *We want so many 
men and so many women on such and such a day.' Some- 
times we'd call for three or four hundred, but the en- 
ganchadores would never fail to deliver the full number 
on the dot. We paid fifty pesos apiece for them, reject- 
ing those that didn't look good to us, and that was all 
there was to it. We always kept them as long as they 

"It's healthier down there than it is right here in the 
city of Mexico," he told me. "If you have the means to 
take care of yourself you can keep as well there as you 
can anywhere on earth." 


Less than five minutes after making this statement he 
told me : 

*'Yes, I remember a lot of three hundred enganchados 
we received one Spring. In less, than three months we 
buried more than half of them" 

The hand of the American slave-driver of Mexico has 
been known to reach out for its victims even as far as 
his own home — the United States. During my travels 
in Mexico, in order to become better acquainted with 
the common people, I spent most of my traveling days 
in second or third class cars. Riding in a third class 
car between Tierra Blanca and Veracruz one night, I 
spied an American negro sitting in a corner. 

"I wonder if they ever caught him down here?" I 
said to myself. "I'll find out." 

Tom West, a free-born Kentucky negro of twenty- 
five, hesitated to admit that he had ever been a slave. 
But he confessed gradually. 

"Ah was workin' in a brick yahd in Kaintucky at two 
dollahs a day," was the way Tom put it, "when anothah 
cuUahd man come along an' tole me he knowed where 
Ah cud get three seventy-five a day. Ah said *Ah'm with 
ye.' So he hands me one o' them book prospectuses 
an' the next day he tuk me to the office o' the company 
an' they said the same thing — three seventy-five Amer- 
ican money, or seven an' a half Mex ! So Ah come with 
eighty othah cullahd folks by way o' Tampa, Florida, 
and Veracruz, down here to a coffee and rubbah planta- 
tion at La Junta, near Santa Lucrecia, Oaxaca. 

"Seven and a half a day! Huh! Seven an* a half! 
That's just what they paid me when they let me go-^ 
aftah two yeahs! Ah run away twict, but they ketched 
me and brung me back. Did they beat me? Naw, they 
beat lots o' othahs, but they nevah beat me. Ah yeh, 


they batted me a few times with a stick, but Ah wouldn't 
a let 'em beat me ; no suh, not me !" 

The plantation that caught Tom West, Kentuckian, 
was an American plantation. Some months after talk- 
ing with Tom I happened to hold a conversation with a 
man who identified himself as Tom's master after I 
had told him Tom's story. 

"Those niggers," this American told me, "were an 
experiment that didn't turn out very well. They must 
have been ours, for I don't know of anybody else down 
that way that had them at the time of which you speak. 
The seven and a half a day? Oh, the agents told 'em 
anything to get them. That was none of our business. 
We simply bought them and paid for them and then 
made them work out their purchase price before we gave 
them any money. Yes, we kept them under lock and 
key at night and had to guard them with guns in the 
daytime. When they tried to make a break we'd tie 
*em up and give 'em a good dressing down with a club. 
The authorities? We chummed with the authorities. 
They were our friends." 

The partnership of American capital with President 
Diaz not only puts at its disposal a system of slave labor, 
but also permits it to utilize the system of peonage and 
to beat the class of wage-laborers down to the lowest 
point of subsistence. Where slavery does not exist in 
Mexico you find peonage, a mild form of slavery, or 
you find cheap wage-labor. Diaz's rurales shot Colonel 
Greene's copper miners into submission and threats of 
imprisonment put an end to the great strike on an Amer- 
ican-Mexican railroad. American capitalists boast of the 
fact that their Diaz "does not permit any foolishness 
on the part of these labor unions." In such facts as 


these are found the reason for their hysterical defense 
of him. 

I shall briefly outline the railroad situation in Mexico, 
and tell the story of the railway merger. 

Today the main lines of Mexican railroads aggregate 
12,500 miles. Of this mileage the Southern Pacific com- 
pany controls and will probably soon own 8,941 miles, or 
nearly three- fourths of the total. These lines consist of : 

The Southern Pacific in Mexico, 950 miles; the Kan- 
sas City, Mexico and Orient, 279 miles; the Pan-Amer- 
ican, 296 miles; the Mexican, 327 miles; the National 
Railways of Mexico, 7,089 miles. 

Of these the Southern Pacific is the only one that is 
being operated openly as the property of the Harriman 
heirs. The Orient road is operated under the presidency 
of A. E. Stilwell, a Harriman ally, whose vice-presi- 
dent, George H. Ross, is a director of the Chicago & 
Alton road, a Harriman property with which the Orient 
road has traffic agreements. Construction is still going 
on on both of these roads and they are drawing from 
the Diaz government about $20,000 of subsidy for every 
mile built, or nearly enough to build the road. 

The Pan-American railroad was recently acquired by 
David H. Thompson, who is the nominal president. 
Thompson was the United States ambassador to Mex- 
ico, where he seems to have represented the Harriman 
interests first and the other American interests after- 
wards. After securing the road, he resigned the am- 
bassadorship. It is a pretty generally accepted fact that 
Thompson was acting for Harriman in securing the road. 
Harriman men are associated with him as directors of 
the road. The especial purpose of Thompson's securing 
the road was to incorporate it as a part of Harriman's 


plan to make an all-rail route from the Arizona bordet 
to Central America. 

The only control exercised by the Harriman interests 
over the "Mexican Railway," as far as the writer knows, 
is that involved in the pooling of interests, in both freight 
and passenger traffic, of the Mexican road and the Na- 
tional Railways of Mexico. It is the inside story of the 
Mexican merger — a story which I obtained from unim- 
peachable sources while working as a reporter of the 
Mexican Daily Herald in the Spring of 1909. 

Briefly, the story is this: The consolidation under 
nominal government control of the two principal rail- 
road systems in Mexico, the Mexican Central and the 
Mexican National, was brought about, not, as is officially 
given out, to provide against the absorption of the Mex- 
ican highways by foreign capitalists, but to provide for 
that very thing. It was a deal between E. H. Harriman,, 
on the one hand, and the government financial cama- 
rilla, on the other, the victim in the case being Mexico. 
It was a sort of deferred sale of the Mexican railroads 
to Harriman, the members of the camarilla getting as 
their share of the loot millions and millions of dollars 
through the juggling of securities and stock in effecting 
the merger. On the whole, it constitutes perhaps the 
most colossal single piece of plundering carried out by 
the organized wreckers of the Mexican nation. 

In this deal with Harriman, Limantour, Minister of 
Finance, was the chief manipulator, and Pablo Macedo, 
brother of Miguel Macedo, Sub-secretary of the Depart- 
ment of the Interior, was first lieutenant. As a reward 
for their part in the deal, Limatour and Macedo are said 
to have divided $9,000,000 gold profits between them, 
and Limantour was made president and Macedo vice- 
president of the board of directors of the merged roads, 


which positions they still hold. The other members of 
the board of directors of the merged roads are Guil- 
lermo de Landa y Escandon, governor of the Federal 
District of Mexico, Samuel Morse Felton, former pres- 
ident of the Mexican Central, who was Harriman's 
special emissary in Mexico to work on Diaz to secure 
his consent to the deal, E. N. Brown, former vice-presi- 
dent and general manager of the Mexican National lines, 
and Gabriel Mancera. Each of these four men is said to 
have made a personal fortune for himself out of the 

The National Railways of Mexico, as they are officially 
known, have, in addition to a general board of directors, 
a New York board of directors. Note the Harriman 
timber to be found among these names: William H. 
Nichols, Ernest Thallmann, James N. Wallace, James 
Speyer, Bradley W. Palmer, H. Clay Pierce, Clay Ar- 
thur Pierce, Henry S. Priest, Eban Richards and H. C. 
P. Channan. 

Whether the Mexican railroad steal was conceived in 
the brain of Limantour or of Harriman is not known, 
but Limantour seems to have attempted to bring about 
the merger originally without the aid of Harriman. 
Some four years ago Limantour and Don Pablo Mar- 
tinez del Rio, owner of the Mexican Herald and man- 
ager of the Banco Nacional, went into the market and 
bought heavily of Mexican Central and Mexican Na- 
tional stock, after which they broached the merger 
scheme to Diaz. Diaz turned the proposition down points 
blank and Limantour and del Rio both lost heavily, del 
Rio's losses so bearing down upon him that he died 
soon afterwards. 

It was at this point that Limantour is suppose 1 to 
Have turned to Harriman, who immediately fell in with 


the scheme and carried it to an exceedingly successful 
termination for himself. 

Harriman owned some Mexican Central stock, but 
fifty-one per cent of this property was in the personal 
possession of H. Clay Pierce. When the first rumblings 
of the 1907 panic were heard Pierce was persuaded to 
hypothecate his entire holdings to Harriman. 

After getting control of from eighty to eighty-five 
per cent of the Mexican Central property Harriman sent 
Samuel Morse Felton, one of the ablest railroad manip- 
lators in the United States, to talk Diaz over to the 
merger scheme. Where Limantour had failed Felton 
succeeded and the world was informed that the Mexican 
government had accomplished a great financial feat by 
securing the ownership and control of its railroad lines. 

It was announced that the government had actually 
secured fifty-one per cent of the stock of the company. 
Also the government was put in nominal control of the 

But — in the deal Harriman succeeded in placing such 
heavy obligations upon the new company that his heirs 
are almost sure to foreclose in the course of time. 

The Mexican Central and Mexican National systems 
are both cheaply built roads; their rolling stock is of 
very low grade. Their entire joint mileage at the time 
of the merger was 5,400 miles, and yet under the merger 
they were capitalized at $615,000,000 gold, or $112,000 
per mile. Oceans of water there. The Mexican Cen- 
tral was 30 years old, yet had never paid a penny. The 
Mexican National was over 25 years old, yet it had paid 
less than two per cent. Yet in the over-capitalized mer- 
ger we find that the company binds itself to pay four 
and one-half per cent on $225,000,000 worth of bonds 


and four per cent on $160,000,000 worth of bonds, or 
$16,525,000 interest a year, and pay it semi-annually! 

Out of the merger deal Harriman is supposed to have 
received, in addition to merger stocks and bonds, a cash 
consideration and special secret concessions and subsi- 
dies for his west coast road. Harriman dictated the con- 
tract as to the payment of interest on those merger bonds 
and his successors will compel payment or foreclose. 
As long as Diaz remains in power, as long as the Mex- 
ican government is "good ;" that is, as long as it contin- 
ues in partnership with American capital, the matter 
can be arranged — if in no other way, by paying the defi- 
ciency out of the Mexican treasury. But the moment 
there is trouble it is expected that the government will 
be unable to pay and the railroad will become American 
in name as well as in fact. 

Trouble ! That word is an exceedingly significant one 
here. A Mexican revolution will probably mean trouble 
of this particular sort, for every revolution of the past 
in Mexico has seen the necessity of the government's re- 
pudiating all or a part of the national obligations for 
a time. Thus the final step in the complete American- 
ization of Mexico's railways will be one of the clubs held 
over the Mexican people to prevent them from overturn- 
ing a government that is particularly favorable to Amer- 
ican capital. 

. Trouble! Trouble will come, too, when Mexico at- 
tempts to kick over the traces of undue American "in- 
fluence." The United States will intervene with an 
army, if necessary, to maintain Diaz or a successor who 
would continue the special partnership with American 
capital. In case of a serious revolution the United 
States will intervene on the plea of protecting American 


capital. American intervention will destroy the last 
hope of Mexico for an independent national existence. 
Mexican patriots cannot forget this, for it is daily pa- 
raded before them by the Diaz press itself. Thus the 
threat of an American army in Mexico is another of the 
American influences which keep Mexico from revolu- 
tion against the autocracy of Diaz. 

American capital is not at present in favor of political 
annexation of Mexico. This is because the slavery by 
which it profits can be maintained with greater safety 
under the Mexican flag than under the American flag. As 
long as Mexico can be controlled — in other words, as 
long as she can be held as a slave colony — she will not be 
annexed, for once she is annexed the protest of the 
American people will become so great that the slavery 
must of necessity be abolished or veiled under less brutal 
and downright forms. The annexation of Mexico will 
come only when she cannot be controlled by other means. 
Nevertheless, the threat of annexation is today held as 
a club over the Mexican people to prevent them from 
forcibly removing Diaz. 

Do I guess when I prophesy that the United States 
will intervene in case of a revolution against Diaz? 
Hardly, for the United States has already intervened 
in that very cause. The United States has not waited 
for the revolution to assume a serious aspect, but has 
lent its powers most strenuously to stamping out its 
first evidences. President Taft and Attorney General 
Wickersham, at the behest of American capital, have 
already placed the United States government in the 
service of Diaz to aid in stamping out an incipient rev- 
olution with which, for justifiable grounds, our revolu- 
tion of 1776 cannot for an instant be thought of in com- 
parison. Attorney General Wickersham is credited 


with being a heavy stockholder in the National Rail- 
ways of Mexico; Henry W. Taft, brother of the pres- 
ident, is general counsel for the same corporation. Thus 
it will be seen that these officials have a personal as well 
as a political interest in maintaining the system of Diaz. 
Three times during the past two years the United 
States government has rushed an army to the Mexican 
border in order to crush a movement of Liberals which 
had risen against the autocrat of Mexico. Constantly 
during the past three years the American government, 
through its Secret Service, its Department of Justice, 
its Immigration officials, its border rangers, has main* 
iained in the border states a reign of terror for Mex- 
icans, in which it has lent itself unreservedly to the 
extermination of political refugees of Mexico who have 
sought safety from the long arm of Diaz upon the soil 
of the 'Hand of the free and the home of the brave" 



America, Cradle of Liberty, has joined hands with 
Porfirio Diaz, the most devastating despot that rules a 
nation, in stamping out that portion of the world move- 
ment for democracy which is today attempting to se- 
cure the common rights of human beings for the Mex- 
ican people. 

In previous chapters I have shown how the United 
States is a voluntary partner in the slavery and political 
oppression of Diaz-land. I have shown how, by its com- 
mercial alliance, its press conspiracy and its threat of 
intervention and annexation, it has supported the mil- 
itary dictatorship of Diaz. This chapter I shall devote 
to the story of how the United States has delivered its 
military and civil resources into the hands of the Tyrant 
and with that power has held him in his place when 
otherwise he would have fallen; and thus has been the 
final determining force in the continuation of the system 
of slavery which I have described in the early chapters 
of this book. 

When I say the United States here I mean the United 
States government chiefly, though state and local gov- 
ernments along our Mexican border are also involved. 
Numerous instances go to show that, in order to exter- 
minate the enemies of Diaz who have come as political 
refugees to this country, public officials from the presi- 
dent down have set aside American principles cherished 
for generations, have criminally violated some laws and 
stretched and twisted others out of all semblance to 
their former selves, and Have permitted, encouraged 



and protected law-breaking on the part of Mexican offi- 
cials and their hirelings in this country. 

For the past five years the law of our border states, 
as far as Mexican citizens are concerned, has been very 
much the law of Diaz. The border has been Mexican- 
ized. In numerous instances our government has dele- 
gated its own special powers to agents of Mexico in the 
form of consuls, hired attorneys and private detectives. 
Mexican citizens have been denied the right of asylum 
and the ordinary protection of our laws. By the reign 
of terror thus established the United States has held 
in check a movement which otherwise would surely 
have developed sufficient strength to overthrow Diaz, 
abolish Mexican slavery and restore constitutional gov- 
ernment in the country to the south of us. 

Three times during the past two years, twice as Sec- 
retary of War and once as President, William Howard 
Taft has ordered troops to the Texas border to aid 
Diaz in wreaking vengeance upon his enemies. He also 
— at the same time as well as at other times — ordered 
posses of United States Marshals and squads of Secret 
Service operatives there for the same purpose. 

The first time Taft ordered troops to the border was 
in June, 1908, the second time in September, 1908, the 
third time in July, 1909. The troops were commanded 
to drive back into the hands of pursuing Mexican sol- 
diers or to capture and detain any fugitives who at- 
tempted to cross the Rio Grande and save their lives 
upon Texas soil. 

That this action on the part of President Taft was 
an undue stretching of the laws it would appear from 
dispatches sent out from Washington, June 30, 1908. 
From one of these dispatches published throughout the 
country, July 1, 1908, I quote the following: 


"The employment of American troops for this purpose, by the 
way, is almost without precedent in recent years, and the law 
officers of the War Department, as well as the Attorney-General 
himself, have been obliged to give close study to the question 
of the extent to which they may exercise the power of pre- 
venting persons from entering the United States across the 
Mexican border. 

"Under the law no passports are required except in the case 
of Chinese and Japanese, and about the only other reasonable 
ground for detention of fugitives seeking to cross the line would 
be some presumable violation of the immigration or health- 
inspection laws. 

"So it will be a delicate task for the army officers, who are 
charged with the duty of policing this international boundary 
line, to avert clashes with the civil courts if they undertake to 
make promiscuous arrests of persons fleeing from Mexico into 
the United States." 

The troops obeyed orders. Fleeing Liberals v^ere 
turned back to be pierced by the bullets of Diaz's sol- 
diers. Was our government justified in causing the 
death of those unfortunate men in such a manner? If 
not, would it be improper to characterize the action as 
executive murder? 

During the past five years hundreds of Mexican refu- 
gees have been imprisoned in the border states, and there 
have been numerous attempts to carry refugees across 
the line, in order that the Diaz government might deal 
vv^ith them after its own summary methods, and many 
of these attempts have been successful. Some of the 
schemes employed in this campaign of deportation are, 
first, to institute extradition proceedings under charges 
of "murder and robbery ;" second, to deport through the 
Immigration Department under charges of being "unde- 
sirable immigrants ;" third, to kidnap outright and felo- 
niously carry across the line. 

Some members of the Liberal Party whose extradition 






was sought on charges of "murder and robbery" during 
the space of a few months were Librado Rivera, Pedro 
Gonzales, Crescencio Villarreal, Trinidad Garcia, Deme- 
trio Castro, Patricio Guerra, Antonio I. Villarreal, Lauro 
Aguirre, Ricardo Flores Magon and Manuel Sarabia. 
There were others, but I have not definite knowledge of 
their cases. Some of the prosecutions occurred at St. 
Louis, others at El Paso, Texas, others at Del Rio, Texas, 
and others at Los Angeles, Cal. 

An uprising of a Liberal club at Jimenez, Coahuila, 
formed the basis of the charges in all but one or two of 
the cases. During this uprising somebody was killed and 
the government postoffice lost some money. Wherefore 
every Mexican who could be convicted of membership in 
the Liberal Party, although he might never have been in 
Coahuila nor have ever heard of the rebellion, stood in 
danger of extradition for "murder and robbery." The 
United States government spent a good many thousands 
of dollars in prosecuting these manifestly groundless 
charges, but it is to the credit of certain Federal Judges 
that the prosecutions were generally unsuccessful. Judge 
Gray of St. Louis and Judge Maxey of Texas both char- 
acterized the offenses as being of a political nature. The 
text of the former's decision in the Rivera case follows : 

The United States vs. Librado Rivera. 
City of St. Louis, ss., State of Missouri. 

I hereby certify that upon a public hearing had before me at 
my office in said city on this 30th day of November, 1906, the 
defendant being present, it appearing from the proofs that the 
offense complained of was entirely of a political nature, the 
said defendant, Librado Rivera, was discharged. 

Witness my hand and seal. 

James R. Gray, 
United States Commissioner at St. Louis, Mo. 


The scheme to deport political refugees through the 
Immigration Department was more successful. The 
immigration laws provide that, if it be discovered that 
an immigrant is a criminal or an anarchist, or if he has 
entered this country in an illegal manner, provided that 
such discovery is made within three years of his arrival 
here, the immigration officials may deport him. The 
question of the "undesirability" of the immigrant is not 
a subject for review by the courts, the immigrant may 
not appeal, and within two or three restrictions the im- 
migration agent's word is law. It will be readily seen, 
therefore, that if the said official be not an honest man, 
if he be willing to accept a bribe or even yield to influ- 
ence or blandishments, he may, with impunity, send many 
pure and upright men to an untimely death. 

And exactly this thing has been done. Antonio I. 
Villarreal, secretary of the Liberal Party, was among 
those placed in danger of deportation "under the immi- 
gration laws." After various means had been used un- 
successfully to secure his extradition, he was turned over 
to the immigration officials at El Paso and was actually 
on his way to the line when he made a break for lib- 
erty and escaped. 

Of a large number of Mexican Liberals arrested in 
Arizona in the fall of 1906, Lazaro Puente, Abraham 
Salcido, Gabriel Rubio, Bruno Trevino, Carlos Humbert, 
Leonardo Villarreal and several others were deported in 
one party by the immigration officials at Douglas. There 
is no legal excuse for deporting an immigrant because he 
is a political refugee. On the other hand, according to 
"American principles," so-called, he is entitled to espe- 
cially solicitous care for this reason. And yet all of these 
men were deported because they were political refugees. 


All of them were peaceful, respectable persons. The 
law under no circumstances permits of deportation after 
the immigrant has been a resident of this country for 
more than three years. But several of this number had 
lived here for longer than that time and Puente, who 
was editing a paper in Douglas, claimed to have resided 
in the United States continuously for thirteen years. 

Still another crime of officials may be cited In this par- 
ticular case. When occasion arises for deportation the 
immigrant in ordinary cases is merely returned to the 
country whence he came. But in this case the group of 
Mexican Liberals was delivered over to the Mexican po- 
lice in handcuffs, and the American handcuffs were not 
removed until the prisoners arrived at the penitentiary of 
Hermosillo, state of Sonora! 

The Mexican government, by the way, found nothing 
against these men after it had got them except that they 
were members of the Liberal Party. Nevertheless, it 
sent each and every one of them to long terms in prison. 

Many Americans will remember the case of L. Gu- 
tierrez De Lara, whom the Immigration Department 
seized for deportation in October, 1909, accusing him 
of being "an alien anarchist." De Lara had resided more 
than three years in this country, yet undoubtedly he 
would have been sent to his death had not the country 
sent up such a protest that the conspirators were fright- 
ened. It is supposed that De Lara's life was sought at 
this particular time because he accompanied me to Mex- 
ico and aided in securing material for my expose of 
Mexican conditions. 

When Diaz fails to gain possession of his enemies in 
the United States by other means he does not hesitate 
to resort to kidnapping and when he resorts to kidnap- 


ping he finds no trouble in securing the criminal assis- 
tance of American officials. 

The most notable case of refugee kidnapping on rec- 
ord is that of Manuel Sarabia. The case is notable not 
because it is the only one of its kind, but because it is the 
one which was most successfully exposed. 

Manuel Sarabia was second speaker of the Liberal 
junta. He was hounded about from place to place by 
Diaz detectives, finally bringing up in Douglas, Arizona, 
where he went to work quietly at his trade of printer. 

On June 30, 1907, Antonio Maza, the Mexican consul 
at Douglas, saw Sarabia on the street and recognized 
him. That evening U. S. Ranger Sam Hayhurst held 
up Sarabia at the point of a pistol and, without a war- 
rant, put him in the city jail. At eleven o'clock that 
night Sarabia's door swung open, he was led outside, 
forced into an automobile, carried across the interna- 
tional boundary line and there turned over to Colonel 
Kosterlitzsky, an officer of Mexican rurales. The ru- 
rales tied Sarabia on the back of a mule, and telling him 
that he was to be shot on the road, made a hurried trip 
with him through the mountains, finally bringing up, af- 
ter five days, at the penitentiary at Hermosillo, Sonora. 

What saved Sarabia? Just one thing. As he was 
forced into the automobile he cried out his name and 
shouted that he was being kidnapped. The ruffians 
guarding him choked him into silence and then gagged 
him, but some one had heard and the story spread. 

Even then Consul Maza had the audacity to try to 
hush up the matter and carry his plot to a successful 
conclusion. By some means he succeeded in muzzling 
the string of Arizona newspapers run by George H. 
Kelly, as Kelly afterwards admitted in court. But in 
Douglas at that time there was a newspaper man whom 


Maza could not bribe. It was Franklin B. Dorr, who 
was running the Douglas Daily Examiner. 

In his paper Dorr raised a protest that stirred the 
blood of the people of Douglas. Street meetings were 
held to further arouse the people. Mother Jones was 
there. A crowd looked for Maza with a rope. Tele- 
graphic appeals were sent to the state and national 
governments. And finally — Sarabia was shamefacedly 

What would have happened to Sarabia if his voice 
had not been heard on that night in June, 1907? Ex- 
actly what has happened to others whose frightened 
voices have not been heard. He would have dropped 
out of sight and no one would ever have been able to 
say for certain where he had gone. 

And what, pray, happened to the kidnappers? Abso- 
lutely nothing. 

Consul Maza, Ranger Hayhurst, Lee Thompson, city 
jailer. Constable Shorpshire, Henry Elvey, the chauffeur, 
and some private detectives whose names were never 
given to the public seem plainly to have been guilty of 
the crime of kidnapping, which is punishable by impris- 
onment in the penitentiary. Those named were arrested 
and the first four were duly held to answer to the up- 
per court sitting at Douglas. Elvey made a clean breast 
of the case and the evidence seemed conclusive. But 
as soon as the excitement had blown over every one of 
the cases was quietly dropped. It was not Sarabia's 
fault, for an eflfort was made to bribe Sarabia to leave 
town and Sarabia refused the bribe. Evidently the 
money which had bribed Hayhurst, Thompson and 
Shorpshire was not all the money that was used by 
Maza at that time. 

Nearly every small town along the Mexican border 


harbors a personage who enjoys the title of Mexican 
consul. Consuls are found in villages hundreds of miles 
from the Mexican border. Consuls are supposed to be 
for the purpose of looking after the interests of trade 
between countries, but towns in California, Arizona, 
New Mexico and Texas which do not do a hundred dol- 
lars worth of trade a year with Mexico have consuls 
who are maintained by Diaz at the expense of tens of 
thousands of dollars a year. 

Such consuls are not consuls at all. They are spies, 
persecutors, bribers. They are furnished with plenty 
of money and they spend it freely in hiring thugs and 
detectives and bribing American officeholders. By the 
power thus gained they have repeatedly suppressed 
newspapers and put their editors in jail, as well as 
broken up political clubs of Mexicans. 

During the trial of Jose Maria Ramires and four 
other Liberals in El Paso in October, 1908, a city police- 
man naively swore that his chief had told him to obey 
the orders of the Mexican consul and the chief of police 
of Juarez, a Mexican town. 

When, after threats by the Mexican consul of Tucson, 
Arizona, thugs destroyed the printing plant of Manuel 
Sarabia in that city in December, 1908, Sarabia was 
unable to persuade the City Marshal to make an inves- 
tigation of the affair or to attempt to bring the perpetra- 
tors to account. 

City detectives of Los Angeles, California, have re- 
peatedly taken orders from the Mexican consul there 
and have unlawfully placed in his hands property of 
persons whom they have arrested. 

Antonio Lozano, the Mexican consul at Los Angeles, 
at one time had two fake employment offices running 
at the same time for the single purpose of hiring mem- 


bers of the Liberal Party and luring them to points in 
Mexico where they could be captured by the Diaz police. 
This same consul, after De Lara and I started on our 
trip to Mexico, offered bribes to various friends of De 
Lara to tell them where he had gone. 

Such minor details would fill many pages. John Mur- 
ray was arrested by Secret Service Chief Wilkie. Mur- 
ray's offense consisted of raising money for the legal de- 
fense of the refugees. Robert W. Dowe, the American 
customs collector at Eagle Pass, Texas, was compelled 
to resign under charges of acting as a secret agent for the 
Mexican government, and receiving money for such 
service. The evidence in the case was suppressed by our 
Treasury Department, which reinstated Dowe after some 
months had passed and public indignation over the affair 
at Eagle Pass had blown over. In the District Court of 
Los Angeles, Cal., a warrant for the arrest of De Lara, his 
wife, Mrs. Mamie Shea, an American, Mrs. Marie Tala- 
vera and about twenty others, has been on file for many 
months, ready for service at any time. Those named are 
charged with violating the neutrality laws in having cir- 
culated a manifesto printed by the Liberal Party. Threats 
that this warrant was to be served have been made to 
various of the parties, with the evident purpose of de- 
terring them from aiding in any way the movement for 
the regeneration of Mexico. 

Only a few months ago newspapers reported that Ma- 
jor Elihu Root of the U. S. Army had gone on a special 
mission to Mexico to confer with Diaz's War Depart- 
ment on the most practical means of entrapping the ene- 
mies of Diaz who are sojourning on our soil. 

Only a short time ago the news was printed that Punto 
Rojo, an anti-Diaz labor paper of Texas, had been sup- 


pressed, that $10,000 reward had been offered for the 
capture of its editor, Praxedis Guerrero, that secret 
service men in pursuit of that reward had seized sub* 
scription books of the paper and from the books had se* 
cured names of men who would be at once proceeded 

During the past three years persecution of this general 
character has directly caused the suspension of at least ten 
newspapers printed in Spanish along the border for Mex- 
ican readers. 

To each of these persecutions and press suppressions 
there is an interesting story attached, but to attempt to 
detail all of them would require too great a proportion 
of this work. I shall detail but one case, that of Ricardo 
Flores Magon, president of the Liberal Party, and his 
immediate associates. This case, as well as being the 
most important of all, is typical. Its difference from 
the rest has been chiefly that Magon, having been able to 
gather about him greater resources, has been able to make 
a longer and more desperate fight for his life and lib- 
erty than others of his countrymen who have been singled 
out for persecution. For six and one-half years Magon 
has been in this country and during nearly the whole of 
that time he has been engaged in trying to escape being 
sent back to death beyond the Rio Grande. More than 
one-half of that time he has passed in American prisons, 
and for no other reason than that he is opposed to Diaz 
and his system of slavery and despotism. 

The worst that can be said of Magon — as of any of 
his followers whom I know — is that he desires to bring 
about an armed rebellion against the established govern- 
ment of Mexico. In cases where reformers are given 
the opportunity of urging their reforms by democratic 


methods, armed rebellion in this day and age are inde- 
fensible. But when through the suppression of free 
speech, free press and such liberties, peaceable means of 
propaganda are impossible, then force is the only alterna- 
tive. It was upon this principle that our revolutionary 
forefathers proceeded and upon which the Mexican Lib- 
erals are proceeding today. 

Magon and his followers would never have come to 
this country to plot against Diaz had not their peace- 
able movement been broken up by gun and club methods 
and their lives seriously endangered at home. The 
propriety of citizens of despotic countries seeking refuge 
in another country, there to plan better things for their 
own, was for many decades recognized by the constituted 
powers of the United States, which protected political 

A dozen years ago Palma established the Cuban revo- 
lutionary Junta in the city of New York, and instead of 
being arrested he was lionized. For more than a century 
political refugees from European countries. South Amer- 
ica, and even China have found safety with us. Young 
Turks prepared for their revolution here. Irish soci- 
eties raised money here for a movement to free Ireland. 
Jewish defense societies have been financed all over the 
country and none of the promoters have been turned 
over to the vengeance of the Czar. And these things 
have been done openly, not secretly. Today there are 
known to be Portuguese revolutionist headquarters in 
the United States. Porfirio Diaz himself — what historic 
irony! — when he turned revolutionist found safety on 
American soil and, though his cause was an extremely 
questionable one, no one arrested him. What is more, 
Diaz committed the identical crime which, through the 
legal machinery of the United States, he is now urging 


against many of the refugees, that of setting on foot a 
military expedition against a foreign power. On March 
22, 1876, Diaz crossed the Rio Grande at Brownsville, 
Texas, with forty armed followers for the purpose of 
waging war upon President Lerdo de Tejada. He was 
driven back and, though all America knew of his exploit, 
no effort was made to imprison him. 

But now the policy has been changed to accommodate 
President Diaz. Action has been taken against political 
refugees of just one other country, Russia, and it is 
safe to assume that those cases were undertaken merely 
that the authorities might defend themselves against 
the charge of using the machinery of government with 
partiality against Mexicans. 

Magon and a small group of followers, including his 
brother Enrique and the Sarabias, crossed the Rio 
Grande in January, 1904, and soon afterwards established 
their paper "Regeneracion" in San Antonio. The paper 
had been going but a few weeks when a Mexican, a 
supposed hireling of the Mexican government, called at 
the office and tried to reach the Liberal leader with a 
dirk-knife. Enrique Magon grappled with the fellow, 
and in another moment four city detectives rushed in 
and placed Enrique under arrest. The next day he was 
fined $30 in the police court, while the supposed thug 
was not even arrested. 

The exiles looked upon this incident as a part of a 
conspiracy to get them into trouble. They moved to St. 
Louis, where they re-established their paper. They had 
hardly got into their new quarters when they began to 
be annoyed by the Furlong Detective Agency. They 
claim that the Furlong Detective Agency put an "opera- 
tive" into the office of "Regeneracion" in the role of an 
advertising solicitor, put "operatives'* into the St. Louis 


postoffice to waylay the letters of the exiles, put "opera- 
tives" out to hunt somebody to bring libel proceedings 
against "Regeneracion," put "operatives" at work to 
harass the editors of the paper in every possible way. 

Our Postoffice Department, called to aid in the sup- 
pression of "Regeneracion," revoked the second class 
privileges which had been properly secured at San 
Antonio. But this was insufficient, so two different 
parties were brought from Mexico to institute charges 
of criminal and civil libel against the editors. The edi- 
tors were thrown in jail, the publication stopped. Fur- 
long detectives stole letters and turned them over to the 
Mexican consul, and from these letters, the refugees 
claim, was gleaned a list of names which resulted in the 
arrest of some three hundred Liberals in Mexico. 

The editors got out of jail on bail, whereupon new 
charges were prepared to get them back again. But, 
having important work to do, they chose to pay their 
bail and flee from these charges. Magon and Juan 
Sarabia went to Canada and it was here that they carried 
on their final correspondence preparatory to launching 
an armed rebellion against Diaz. The first gun was to 
be fired October 20, 1906, and on the night of October 
19 the Liberal leaders gathered at El Paso preparatory to 
crossing the line the following morning. 

As set forth in a previous chapter, this rebellion was 
betrayed and was more or less of a fizzle. Of the refu- 
gee leaders, Juan Sarabia was betrayed into the hands 
of Diaz and with scores of others was soon afterwards 
sent to the military prison of San Juan de Ulua. Villar- 
real, as previously stated, was among those arrested by 
the American police. For a long time he fought extradi- 
tion on the "murder and robbery" charge and was finally 
turned over to the immigration authorities. Immigra- 


tion officers were in the act of leading him to the boun- 
dary line when he bolted and succeeded in escaping by 
running through the streets of El Paso. Librado Rivera, 
first speaker of the Liberal Junta, with Aaron Mansano, 
was kidnapped at St. Louis by city detectives, was hur- 
ried as far as fronton, Missouri, but was there rescued 
and brought back through an expose which was made by 
one of the St. Louis papers. 

As for Magon, for months he was hunted by detec- 
tives from city to city. He went to California, but was 
still kept dodging and once masqueraded as a woman in 
order to escape the Diaz hounds. Finally, he revived his 
paper in Los Angeles under the name of "Revolucion" 
and here he was joined by Villarreal and Rivera. The 
three worked quietly together, keeping always indoors in 
the daytime and going out for their airing only at night 
and in disguise. 

Early in August, 1907, the hiding-place of the Liberal 
leaders in Los Angeles was located. The evidence seems 
to point to a plot to kidnap them much as Sarabia was 
kidnapped. First, the officers had plenty of time in 
which to procure a warrant, but they did not procure 
a warrant nor even attempt to do so. Second, they 
secreted an automobile in the vicinity and did not use it 
after the arrest. Third, when the three men, fearing a 
kidnapping plot, cried out at the top of their voices, the 
officers beat them with pistols most brutally, Magon being 
beaten until he lay bleeding and insensible on the 
ground. This circumstantial evidence of a kidnapping 
plot is borne out by the direct testimony of one of the 
hirelings of the Mexican consul at that time, who has 
since confessed that there was such a plot and that the 
Mexican consul was the man who hatched it. 

Everything seems to have beeix arranged. The descent 


of the sleuths was made August 23, and Ambassador 
Creel came all the way from Washington to be on hand 
and see that things went off smoothly. On the night Ox 
August 22 Creel was given a banquet by Mexican con- 
cessionaires having headquarters in Los Angeles and the 
following day he sat in his hotel and waited for news 
that his thugs had gotten their victims as planned. 

But the outcries of Magon and his friends collected a 
crowd and it became impossible to kidnap them. So 
unprepared were the officers for a mere arrest case that 
when they got their prisoners to jail they were at a 
loss to know what charge to place against them, so they 
put them down on the police books as '^resisting an 
officer r 

Ambassador Creel then proceeded to hire some of the 
highest priced lawyers in Southern California to devise 
ways and means for getting the prisoners down into 
Mexico. These lawyers were ex-Governor Henry T. 
Gage, Gray, Barker and Bowen, partners of U. S. Sena- 
tor Flint; and Horace H. Appel. When the cases came 
into court their names were announced by the public 
prosecutor as special counsel and always during the 
hearings one or more of them was personally in attend- 

The "officers" who beat the refugees nearly to death 
and then charged them with resisting an officer — although 
they had not even procured a warrant — were Thomas H. 
Furlong, head of the Furlong Detective Agency of St. 
Louis, chief refugee-hunter for Diaz, an assistant Fur- 
long detective, and two Los Angeles city detectives, the 
notorious Talamantes and Rico. 

For months previous to the arrest of Magon and his 
associates a card offering $20,000 for their apprehension 
was circulated about the United States. That the city 


detectives received their share of this reward is evi- 
denced by sworn testimony given in the Los Angeles 
courts by Federico Arizmendez, a Los Angeles printer. 
After the arrest of Magon the sleuths repaired to the 
office of Magon's newspaper, where they took into cus- 
tody the nominal editor, Modesto Diaz. Here they met 
Arizmendez and the following conversation ensued : 

Talamantes — You'd better congratulate me; I just 
made a thousand dollars. 

Arizmendez-^How's that? 

Talamantes — I've just caught Villarreal. 

At this writing Rico and Talamantes are still members 
of the Los Angeles police force ! 

The identity of the employer of Talamantes et al. 
was confirmed beyond question and the astounding usur- 
pation by that employer of American governmental pow- 
ers was revealed when upon being released the day 
following the conversation quoted above, Modesto Diaz 
was informed that he would have to wait a few days 
for the papers taken from him at the time of his arrest, 
as they had been placed in the hands of the Mexican 

If there is any doubt as to who hired Furlong and his 
henchmen to hunt down Magon the doubt will be dis- 
pelled by the reading of an excerpt from Furlong's 
sworn testimony taken in the Los Angeles courts. Here 
it is: 


By Mr. Harriman: 
Q. — What is your business? 

A. — I am the president and manager of the Furlong Secret 
Service Company, St. Louis, Missouri. 
Q. — You helped to arrest these men? 
A.-I did. 
Q. — ^What right did you have? 


Mr. Lawler— That is objected to as a conclusion of the witness. 

Q.— By Mr. Harriman: Did you have a warrant? 

A.— No, sir. 

The Commissioner—The other question is withdrawn and now 
you ask him if he had a warrant? 

Mr. Harriman — ^Yes, sir. 

Q. — Arrested them without a warrant? 

A. — Yes, sir. 

Q. — You took this property away from them without a war- 

A.— Yes, sir. 

Q.— Went througfi the house and searched it without a 
warrant ? 

A. — ^How is that? 

Q.— Went through the house and searched it without a war- 


Q. — And took the papers from them? 

A. — I didn't take any papers from them. I took them and 
locked them up and then went back and got the papers. 

Q. — Took them from their house and kept them, did you? 

A. — No, sir. I turned them over 

Q.— Well, you kept them, so far as they are concerned? 

A. — ^Yes, sir. 

Q. — ^Who paid you for doing this work? 

A. — ^The Mexican government. 

Nor was Furlong backward about confessing the pur- 
pose of the hunt. By a Los Angeles newspaper 
Furlong, in bragging about the arrest, was quoted as 
asserting that he had been "after" Magon and his friends 
for three years. During that period, he said, he had 
succeeded in "getting" 180 Mexican revolutionists and 
turning them over to the Diaz government, which "had 
made short work of them." According to an affidavit 
properly sworn to by W. F. Zwickey and on record in 
the Los Angeles courts, Furlong stated that he was 
"not so much interested in this case and the charges for 
which the defendants are being tried as in getting them 


over into Arizona; that all we (meaning by Ve' himself 
and the Mexican authorities) want is to get the defend- 
ants down into Arizona, and then we will see that they 
get across the line." 

Attorney General Bonaparte seems to have had the 
same purpose as Furlong and the Mexican authorities, 
even at a time when the case in hand did not involve 
extradition to Mexico or even to Arizona. During a 
hearing before Judge Ross in San Francisco Mr. Bona- 
parte had the temerity to wire his district attorney in 
that city: "Resist habeas corpus proceedings in case 
of Magon et al. on all grounds, as they are zvanted in 
Mexico" This telegram was read in court. The inci- 
dent was all the more remarkable in view of the fact 
that only a few days previously Bonaparte, in answer to 
a query from U. S. Senator Perkins, had replied by 
letter assuring the senator that the purpose of the prose- 
cution of these men was not to send them back to 

Five separate and distinct charges were brought 
against Magon and his associates, one after another. 
First, it was "resisting an officer." Then it was the old 
charge of "murder and robbery." Later it was criminal 
libel. Still later it was murdering "John Doe" yn Mex- 
ico. Finally it was conspiracy to violate the neutrality 

Undoubtedly the conspirators would have early suc- 
ceeded in their purpose to railroad the men back to 
Mexico had not a number of Los Angeles organizations 
formed a defense committee, held mass meetings to 
arouse public sentiment, collected funds, and hired two 
able attorneys. Job Harriman and A. R. Holston. These 
lawyers after a long fight succeeded in driving the prose- 
cution into a corner where they were compelled to pro- 


ceed only under action involving imprisonment in this 

During the early stages of the legal fight the Diaz 
agents were suppressing the paper "Revolucion'* in 
characteristic style. After the arrest of its three editors, 
the editorial emergency was met by L. Gutierrez De 
Lara, who had not previously been in any way identified 
with the Liberal Party. Two weeks later De Lara was 
keeping company with Magon, Villarreal and Rivera. 
His extradition was sought on the ground that he had 
committed robbery "on the blank day of the blank 
month of 1906 in the blank state of Mexico !" 

Despite the passing of De Lara "Revolucion" con- 
tinued to appear regularly. As soon as the agents of 
the prosecution could locate the new editor they promptly 
arrested him. He proved to be Manuel Sarabia and he 
was charged with the same offense as happened to stand 
against Magon, Villarreal and Rivera at the time. 

Who was left to publish little "Revolucion ?" There 
were the printers. They — Modesto Diaz, Federico Ariz- 
mendez and a boy named Ulibarri — rose to the occasion. 
But in less than a month they, too, were led to jail, 
all three of them charged with criminal libel. Thus the 
Mexican opposition newspaper passed into history. Inci- 
dentally, Modesto Diaz died as a result of the confine- 
ment following that arrest. 

"Revolucion" was not an anarchist paper. It was not 
a socialist paper. It did not advocate the assassination 
of presidents or the abolition of government. It merely 
stood for the principles which Americans in general 
since the Declaration of Independence and the Constitu- 
tion of the United States came into being have consid- 
ered as necessary to the well-being of any nation. If 
an American newspaper of its ideals had been sup- 


pressed by one-tenth as brazen methods, a righteous 
protest would have echoed and re-echoed across the con- 
tinent. But it was only a Mexican newspaper, an oppo- 
nent of President Diaz, and — it was suppressed. 

The story of Lazaro Gutierrez De Lara well exem- 
plifies the system of robbing the enemies of Diaz of 
their personal liberty in the United States, as practiced 
by the Department of Justice working in conjunction 
with Mexican agents in various parts of the West during 
the past five years. 

De Lara was taken to jail on September 27, 1907, on 
telegraphic instructions from Attorney General Bona- 
parte. As before stated, he was charged with larceny 
committed on the blank day of the blank month of 
1906 in the blank state of the Republic of Mexico, and 
on this awful indictment his extradition to Mexico was 

The extradition treaty between the United States and 
Mexico provides that the country asking extradition 
must furnish evidence of guilt within forty days of the 
arrest of the accused. In De Lara's case this little 
technicality was waived, and at the end of forty days a 
new complaint was filed containing the illuminating 
information that the alleged crime had been committed 
in the state of Sonora. This was considered sufficient 
ground upon which to hold the prisoner another forty 

Nothing happened at the end of the second forty 
days, and on December 22 Attorney Harriman applied 
for a writ of habeas corpus. The writ was denied and 
the prosecution was given more time in which to file a 
third complaint. De Lara was then accused of stealing 
uncut stove-zvood in the state of Sonora, August 7j, 

1903 f 
Several oeculiar facts developed at the hearing. One 


was that De Lara had been tried and acquitted of the 
identical offense in Mexico more than four years previ- 
ously. Another was that while at the trial in Mexico the 
value of the wood was fixed by the prosecution at four 
dollars, at the Los Angeles hearing its value was placed 
at twenty-eight dollars. Because a thief cannot be extra- 
dited for stealing less than twenty-five dollars the wood 
market had taken a spectacular jump. But, by an over- 
sight of the prosecution the market even then did not 
jump quite high enough, for by discovering that the price 
of silver was a little lower than usual that year, Attor- 
ney Harriman showed that the alleged value, fifty-six 
Mexican pesos, did not come to twenty-eight dollars in 
American money, but a little less than twenty-five dol- 
lars, and so on that technicality the life of De Lara 
was saved. 

The facts of the case were that De Lara had never 
stolen any wood, but that, while acting as attorney for 
a widow whom a wealthy American mine owner was 
trying to euchre out of a piece of land, he had given 
the widow permission to cut some wood on the land for 
her own use. The audacity of the prosecutors in this 
case would be unbelievable were it not a matter of rec- 
ord. De Lara was released, but only after one hundred 
and four precious days of his life had been wasted in 
an American jail. He had been luckier than many of 
his compatriots, he had won his fight against extradi- 
tion, but that three and one-half months were gone and 
could never be brought back. Moreover, "Revolucion" 
had been suppressed and a Mexican gentleman had been 
taught that he who opposes the tyrant may be properly 
disciplined in the United States as well as in Mexico. 

Magon, Villarreal and Rivera remained in prison con- 
tinuously since August 2Z, 1907, for nearly three years. 
From early in July, 1908, to January, 1909, they were 


held incommunicado in the Los Angeles county jail, 
which means that no visitors, not even newspaper men, 
were permitted to see them. For a time not even Mrs. 
Rivera and her children were permitted to see the hus- 
band and father. Only their local attorney saw them. 
Two attorneys who were representing them in another 
state were excluded on the flimsy ground that they were 
not attorneys of record in California. 

The only excuse Oscar Lawler, United States Dis- 
trict Attorney, had to offer for this severe isolation 
when, in July, 1908, I called upon him at his office and 
protested was: 

''We are doing this at the request of the Mexican 
government. They have accommodated us and ifs no 
more than right that we accommodate them" 

Requests were also made by the Mexican government 
that the men be not admitted to bail and the requests 
were obeyed. The privilege of liberty on bail pending 
trial is guaranteed by the law to all accused persons 
below the murderer in cold blood, and yet Judge Wel- 
born, sitting both as district and circuit judge, denied 
the men this privilege. Bail had previously been fixed 
as $5,000, ten times the amount required in similar cases 
that had previously come up. In the latter part of July, 
1908, this amount was raised and presented in the most 
gilt-edged form, but it was not accepted. Judge Wel- 
born's excuse was that a rule of the Supreme Court 
says that during habeas corpus proceedings the custody 
of a prisoner shall not be changed. This rule he strangely 
interpreted to mean that these particular prisoners 
should not be admitted to bail. 

During their six months of incommunicado, when 
the prisoners were unable to make any public state- 
rnent, Lawler took advantage of their enforced silence 


publicly to declare them guilty not only of the offenses 
charged, but of others, among them a plot to assassinate 
President Diaz, when, as a matter of fact, Lawler had 
no evidence whatsoever of such a plot. 

After nearly two years in county jails Magon, Villar- 
real and Rivera, were adjudged guilty of conspiring to 
violate the neutrality laws by conspiring to set on foot a 
military expedition against Mexico. They were sen- 
tenced to eighteen months' imprisonment and were con- 
fined in the penitentiary at Florence, Arizona. Sarabia 
was not tried. Having waived extradition proceedings, 
he had been taken to Arizona ahead of the others. Here 
he was released on bail and soon afterwards was mar- 
ried to Miss Elizabeth D. Trowbridge, a Boston girl 
of old and wealthy family. His health broken by long 
confinement, believing that a trial would result in his 
imprisonment in spite of the lack of evidence against 
him, Sarabia was persuaded to pay his bail and with his 
wife flee to Europe. There he has since interested him- 
self in writing for various English, French, Spanish and 
Belgian papers articles upon the democratic movements in 

The campaign to extradite the refugees on charges of 
"murder and robbery,'* generally failed. It succeeded 
insofar as it kept a good many Liberals in jail for many 
months, drained their resources, weakened their organi- 
zation, and intimidated their friends, but it did not suc- 
ceed in extraditing them. Most of the Liberals deported 
were deported by immigration officials or by kidnapping. 

The "murder and robbery" campaign failed because it 
was so plainly in contradiction with American laws and 
American principles. The U. S. prosecuters must have 
known this from the start but, in order to accommodate 
Diaz, they went ahead with the prosecutions. That this 


campaign was not a mere blundering on the part of in- 
dividual U. S. Attorneys, but that it was a policy of the 
highest officials of the government was shown, in 1908, 
when numerous published reports from various depart- 
ments at Washington and from Oyster Bay expressed 
the desire of the administration to deport Mexican polit- 
ical refugees "as common criminals" 

Failing in its efforts to deport Mexican refugees whole- 
sale "as common criminals," our Department of Justice 
concentrated its energies to secure their imprisonment for 
violation of the neutrality laws or conspiracy to violate 
the neutrality laws. It is a high misdemeanor to set on 
foot a military expedition against a "friendly power," or 
to conspire to set on foot a military expedition against a 
"friendly power." In addition to Magon, Villarreal, 
Rivera and Sarabia, some of the Liberal refugees who 
have been prosecuted under this law are Tomas de Espi- 
nosa, Jose M. Rangel, Gasimiro H. Regalado, Lauro 
lAguirre, Raymundo Cano, Antonio Aruajo, Amado Her- 
nandez, Tomas Morales, Encardacion Diaz Guerra, Juan 
Castro, Priciliano Silva, Jose Maria Martinez, Benjamin 
Silva, Leocadio Trevino, Jose Ruiz, Benito Solis, Tomas 
Sarabia, Praxedis Guerrero, Sirvando T. Agis, John 
Murray, Calixto Guerra, Guillermo Adan, E. Davilla, 
Ramon Torres Delgrado, Amendo Morantes, Francisco 
Sainz, Marcelleno Ibarra and Inez Ruiz. 

Most of the arrests occurred at San Antonio, Del Rio, 
El Paso, Douglass, or Los "Angeles. This is by no means 
a complete list, but is a list of the most notable cases. 

In nearly all of these cases the accused were kept in 
Jail for month after month without an opportunity of 
proving their innocence. When the cases came to trial, 
they were usually acquitted. Convictions were secured in 


the cases of Espinosa, Aruajo, Guerra, Priciliano Silva, 
Trevino, Rangel, and Magon, Villarreal and Rivera. 
Prison sentences ranging from one and one-half to two 
and one-half years were given the convicted ones and 
they were confined either at Leavenworth, Kansas, or 
Florence, Arizona. 

Were these men guilty? If not, how is it that they 
were convicted? 

It is my opinion that not one was guilty within the 
proper interpretation of the statute, that the laws were 
stretched to convict them, that in some instances, at least, 
they were deliberately jobbed. 

This is a bold statement, but I think the facts bear me 
out. That there exists on the part of our government 
a most incontinent desire to serve Diaz is shown by the 
circumstance that cases where the evidence of violation 
of the neutrality laws is ten times as clear — as American 
expeditions to aid revolutions in Central American or 
South American countries — have been and are habitually 
overlooked by our authorities. But this fact I do not 
need to urge in favor of the Mexican Liberals. The truth 
is that there has never been any adequate evidence to 
show a violation of the neutrality laws on their part. 

Did they set on foot a military expedition against a 
friendly power? Did they plan to do so? No. What 
did they do ? They came to this country and here planned 
to aid a revolutionary movement in Mexico. Here they 
fled to save their lives, here they staid, planning to re- 
turn and take part in a rebellion upon Mexican soil; 
nothing more. 

Did this constitute a violation of the neutrality laws ? 

Not in the opinion of U. S. Judge Maxey, of Texas, 
who reviewed some of the cases. January 7, 1908, the 


San Antonio Daily Light and Gazette, quotes Judge 
Maxey as follows : 

"If Jose M. Rangel, the defendant, merely went across the 
river and joined in the fight, he had every right to do so, and 
I will so tell the jury in my charge. This indictment is not for 
fighting in a foreign country, but for beginning and setting on 
foot an expedition in Val Verde county." 

The exact text of the law is as follows : 

"Every person who, within the territory or jurisdiction of 
the United States, begins, or sets on foot, or provides or pre- 
pares the means for, any military expedition or enterprise, to 
be carried on from thence against the territory or dominions of 
any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district or peo- 
ple, with whom the United States are at peace, shall be 
deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor, and shall be fined 
not exceeding $3,000, and imprisoned not more than three 

Magon, Villarreal, and Rivera, the leaders, not only 
did not set on foot an expedition against Mexico, but 
they did not even cross the river and fight themselves. 
Their conviction was secured through the palpably per- 
jured testimony of a Mexican detective named Vasquez, 
who presented the only direct evidence against them. 
Vasquez claimed to be a spy who had penetrated a meet- 
ing of a Liberal club. There, he declared, letters were 
read from Magon ordering the club to constitute itself as 
a military body and invade Mexico. At this meeting, said 
Vasquez, military appointments, forwarded by Magon, 
were made. The names, said he, were written by a mem- 
ber named Salcido. The paper was produced, but hand- 
writing experts brought by the defense proved the docu- 
ment to be a forgery. Vasquex then changed his testi- 
mony and swore that he wrote the names himself. This 
was a vital point in the testimony and, had the public 


prosecutors been interested in upholding the law, rather 
than in persecuting the political enemies of Diaz, they 
would have discharged the defendants and prosecuted 
Vasquez for perjury. 

The general persecution of Mexican political refugees 
continued unabated up to June, 1910, when the scandal 
became so great that the matter was presented to Con- 
gress, and the facts which I have set down here, but in 
more complete form, were testified to before the House 
Rules Committee. Resolutions providing for a general 
investigation of the persecutions are now pending in both 

Up to the initiation of congressional proceedings the 
government planned to continue the persecutions. Re- 
peatedly it was announced that, when the terms of Ma- 
gon, Villarreal and Rivera, at the Florence penitentiary, 
ended, they would be prosecuted on further charges. But 
on August 3 they were released and were not re-arrested. 
Since that date there have been no prosecutions, to my 
knowledge. It is to be hoped that the laws of this coun- 
try, and the great American principle of protection for 
political refugees, will not again be abused, for I fear 
that the conspirators are only waiting for the public to 
forget their past crimes. 

There may be further persecutions and there may not. 
Even if there are not, Justice will not be satisfied; the 
friends of decency and of liberty cannot be content. For 
some of the victims are still enduring unjust punishment 
which it is in the power of the American people to end. 
There is Lazaro Puente, for example, the peaceful editor, 
thirteen years a resident of the United States, who was 
unjustly and unlawfully deported as an "undesirable im- 
migrant" by our immigration officials. Lazaro Puente is 


a prisoner in San Juan de Ulua, the military fortress in 
Vera Cruz Harbor. He has been a prisoner there for 
more than four years. Unjustly he was yielded up to the 
Diaz police: in justice the American people should de- 
mand that he be returned free to this country. 



"But Diaz himself — isn't he a pretty good sort of 

It is a question that almost invariably rises to the 
lips of the average American when he learns for the 
first time of the slavery, peonage and political oppres- 
sion of Mexico. Though the question is only another 
evidence that the Diaz press agents have done their 
work well, yet it is one that may very well be exam- 
ined separately. 

The current American estimate of Porfirio Diaz, at 
least up to the past year or two, has indeed been that 
he is a very good fellow. Theodore Roosevelt, in writ- 
ing to James Creelman after the publication in Pear- 
son's Magazine of the latter*s famous laudatory article, 
declared that among contemporary statesmen there was 
none greater than Porfirio Diaz. In the same year, dur- 
ing a trip to Mexico, William Jennings Bryan spoke in 
the most eulogistic terms of Diaz's "great work." David 
Starr Jordan of Stanford University, in recent speeches, 
has echoed Creelman's assertion that Diaz is the greatest 
man in the western hemisphere. And hundreds of our 
most distinguished citizens have expressed themselves 
in a similar vein. On the part of prominent Americans 
traveling in Mexico, it has become a custom, a sort of 
formality of the trip, to banquet at Chapultepec castle — 
the lesser lights at Chapultepec cafe — and to raise the 
after-dinner yoice in most extravagant praise, loudly to 



attribute to Porfirio Diaz the virtues of a superman, 
even of a demi-god. 

Were not the facts overwhelmingly to the contrary, 
did not the easily provable acts of Porfirio Diaz tell an 
entirely different story, I would not presume to question 
the estimates of such men, especially when those estimates 
agree and are accepted generally as correct. But when 
the facts speak for themselves, it matters not how 
obscure may be the individual who brings them to light. 
It matters not, even, how distinguished the men who 
disregard those facts, for facts are greater than men. 
Current Literature, in calling attention to the new con- 
ception of Porfirio Diaz that has of late been gaining 
ground in America, refers to Diaz as a man of mystery. 
"Is he a sublime statesman or is he a colossal criminal?" 
it inquires. To which I would reply that we have our 
ideals of statesmanship and our concepts of criminality; 
all we need upon which to base an estimate are the facts 
of the life of the man in question. Given the facts and 
the mystery dispels itself. 

In judging the life of a man, especially of a man who 
has decided the fate of thousands, who has "saved a 
nation," or wrecked it, small virtues and small vices 
count for little; insignificant acts of good or ill are 
important only in the aggregate. A man may have com- 
mitted grave crimes, yet if he has brought more joy to 
the world than sorrow, he should be judged kindly. On 
the other hand, he may be credited with laudable deeds, 
yet if he has locked the wheels of progress for a time 
to feed his own ambition, history will not acquit him of 
the crime. It is the balance that counts ; it is the scales 
that decide. Will not Porfirio Diaz, when weighed in 
the balance of his good and evil deeds, be found want- 
ing — terribly wanting? His friends may sing his praises, 


but when they, his best friends, begin to specify, to point 
out their reasons for selecting him for a high niche in 
the hall of good fame, is it not found that they them- 
selves become, instead of his advocates, his prosecutors? 
Out of even their mouths is he not convicted and by 
those our ideals of statesmanship and our concepts of 
criminality will we not judge him, not a statesman, but 
a criminal, and because there is no individual man in the 
world who wields so much power over so many human 
beings, will we not judge him the most colossal criminal 
of our time? 

It is curious, this almost universal feeling — in this 
country — that Porfirio Diaz is a very good fellow. But 
it can be explained. For one thing, individuals who 
have not had the opportunity to judge a particular man 
or thing for themselves, though they be college presi- 
dents and congressmen, are apt to accept the word of 
others as to that man or thing. Porfirio Diaz, knowing 
this and valuing the good opinions of men who do not 
know, has spent millions for printer^s ink in this coun- 
try. For another thing, most men are susceptible to 
flattery and Diaz is a good flatterer. As prominent Cath- 
olics journeying to Rome seek an audience with the Pope, 
so Americans traveling to Mexico seek an audience with 
General Diaz ; they usually get it and are flattered. Still 
again, to paraphrase an old proverb, men not only do 
not look a gift horse in the mouth, but they do not 
look the giver in the mouth. Despite the ancient warn- 
ing, men do not usually beware of the Greeks when they 
bring gifts; and Diaz is free with gifts to men whose 
good opinion is influential with others. Finally, there 
IS nothing that succeeds like success, and Diaz has suc- 
ceeded. Power dazzles the strong as well as the weak 
and Diaz's power has dazzled men and cowed them until 


they had not the courage to look steadily at the glare 
long enough to see the bones and carrion behind it. I 
do not for a minute imagine that any decent American 
approves of the acts of Porfirio Diaz. I merely guess 
that they — the decent ones — are ignorant of those deeds 
and are moved to strong praise by having accepted the 
word of others — and by the dazzle of success. 

As for me, I do not come with a new ideal of states- 
manship with which to change your opinions, but I come 
with facts. With those facts before you, if you hold 
Washington a great statesman, or Jefferson, or Lincoln, 
or any other enduring light of American political his- 
tory, I am sure you cannot at the same time hold Porfirio 
Diaz a great statesman. What Porfirio Diaz has done, 
Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, would have abhorred to 
do, and you yourself would abhor to do or see done, are 
you really an admirer of any or all of these men. 

Porfirio Diaz is truly a striking figure. He must be 
a genius of a sort and there must actually be some traits 
of character about him to be admired. Let us examine 
some of his acts with a view to discovering whether or 
not he may justly be called the greatest living statesman 
or "the grandest man in the Americas." 

First let us examine those broadly general allega- 
tions upon which is based his good fame abroad. Chief 
among these are three, that Diaz has "made modern 
Mexico," that he brought peace to Mexico and should 
therefore stand as a sort of prince of peace, and that he 
is a model of virtue in his private life. 

Did Porfirio Diaz "make" modern Mexico? Is Mex- 
ico modern? Hardly. Neither industrially nor in the 
matter of public education, nor in the form of govern- 
ment is Mexico modern. Industrially, it is at least a 


quarter of a century behind the times; in the matter of 
public education it is at least a half century behind the 
times; in its system of government it is worthy of the 
Egypt of three thousand years ago. 

True, Mexico has seen some advancement in some 
lines — especially industrially — during the past thirty- 
four years. But that mere fact does not argue any pro- 
pelling force on the part of Porfirio Diaz. In order to 
show that Diaz was the special propelling force will it 
not be necessary to show that Mexico has advanced in 
that period faster than other countries? And should it 
be shown that Mexico has advanced more slowly than 
almost any other large nation in the world in the past 
thirty-four years, would it not be logical to attribute to 
Diaz at least some of that retarding force? 

Consider the United States thirty-four years ago and 
then today, and then consider Mexico. Consider that 
the world has been built over, industrially, in the past 
thirty-four years. To make the comparison perfectly 
unassailable, disregard the United States and European 
countries and compare the progress of Mexico with other 
Latin-American countries. Among persons who have 
traveled extensively in Argentine, Chili, Brazil and even 
Cuba, and Mexico, there is a pretty good agreement 
that Mexico is the most backward of the five — in the 
matter of government, in the matter of public education, 
even industrially. Who made Argentine? Who made 
Chili? Who made Brazil? Why don't we find a 
"maker" of these countries? The fact is that whatever 
modernization Mexico has had duriner the past thirty- 
four years must be attributed to evolution — that is, to 
the general progress of the world — instead of to Porfirio 
Diqz. In general, Porfirio Diaz has been a reactionary 
'force. His claims for being progressive are all based 


Upon one fact — upon his having "encouraged" foreign 

''Diaz, the peace-maker, the greatest peace-maker 
alive, greater than Roosevelt!" chanted an American 
politician in a banquet at the Mexican capital recently. 
And the chant was only an echo of louder voices. I 
remember seeing, not long ago, a news item stating 
that the American Peace Society had made Porfirio 
Diaz an honorary vice-president, in consideration of 
his having brought peace to Mexico. The theory seems 
to be that since the history of Mexico before Diaz was 
full of wars and violent changes in the government and 
the history of Mexico under Diaz has been without vio- 
lent upheavals of far-reaching effect, Diaz must neces- 
sarily be a humane, Christ-like creature who shrinks at 
the mention of bloodshed and whose example of loving- 
kindness is so compelling that none of his subjects have 
the heart to do anything but emulate him. 

In answer to which it will only be necessary to refer 
the reader to my account of how Diaz began his career 
as a statesmen by deliberately breaking the peace of 
Mexico himself, and how he has been breaking the 
peace ever since — by making bloody war upon the self- 
respecting, democratic elements among his people. He 
has kept the peace — if it can be called keeping the 
peace — by killing off his opponents as fast as their 
heads have appeared above the horizon. This sort of 
peace is what the Mexican writer DeZayas calls "me- 
chanical peace." It has no virtue, because the fruits of 
legitimate peace fail to ripen under it. It neither brings 
happiness to the nation, nor prepares the nation for 
happiness. It prepares it only for violent revolution. 

For more than twenty years before arriving at the 
supreme power in Mexico Diaz had been a professional 


soldier and almost continually in the field. The wars 
of those times were by no means unnecessary affairs. 
Mexico did not fight simply because it is the Mexican 
character to be looking always for trouble, for it isn't. 
Diaz fought in the Three Years War, in which the throt- 
tling grip of the Catholic church on the throat of the 
nation was broken and the nation secured a real repub- 
lican constitution. Afterwards he fought in the War 
of Maximilian, which ended in the execution of the 
Austrian prince whom the armies of Napoleon Third 
had seated as emperor. 

During these twenty odd years Diaz fought on the 
side of Mexico and patriotism. He probably fought no 
more wisely nor energetically than thousands of other 
Mexicans, but he had the good luck to have become 
acquainted in his youth with Benito Juarez, who, years 
later, as father of the constitution and constitutional 
president, guided the destinies of the country safely 
through many troublous years. Juarez remembered Diaz, 
watched his work and promoted him gradually from one 
rank to another until, at the downfall of Maximilian, 
Don Porfirio held a rank which in our country would 
carry the title of major-general. Note how Diaz repaid 
the favors of Juarez. 

Following the overthrow of Maximilian, peace reigned 
in Mexico. Juarez was president. The constitution was 
put into operation. The people were sick unto death of 
war. There threatened neither foreign foe nor internal 
revolt. Yet the ambitious Diaz wantonly and without 
any plausible excuse stirred up rebellion after rebellion 
for the purpose of securing for himself the supreme 
power of the land. 

There is evidence that Diaz began plotting to seize 
the presidency even before the fall of the empire. Dur- 


ing those last days when MaximiHan was penned up in 
Queretaro friends of Diaz approached several military 
leaders and proposed that they form a military party to 
secure the presidency by force of arms, which prize 
would be raffled off among Generals Diaz, Corona and 
Escobedo. General Escobedo refused to enter into the 
conspiracy and the plan consequently fell through. Diaz, 
who was at that time besieging Mexico City, then effected 
a secret combination with the church to overthrow the 
Liberal government. According to one writer, he inten- 
tionally delayed taking the metropolis and asked General 
Escobedo for two of his strongest divisions, which he 
planned to turn against Juarez. But Juarez received 
word of the plot in time and instructed General Esco- 
bedo to send two of his strongest divisions under com- 
mand of General Corona and General Regules, respec- 
tively, with orders to destroy the treachery of Diaz, 
should it arise. When the reinforcements arrived Diaz 
tried to get them entirely in his power by appointing 
new officers, but Corona and Regules stood firm, and 
Diaz, realizing that he had been anticipated, abandoned 
his plot. 

Immediately after the coming of peace Juarez ap- 
pointed Diaz commander of that part of the army sta- 
tioned in Oaxaca and Diaz used the power thus secured 
to control the state elections and impose himself as 
governor. After his defeat for the presidency Diaz 
started a revolution, known as *'La Ciudadela," The 
Citadel, but the uprising was crushed in one decisive 
meeting with the government troops. Six weeks later 
Diaz started a second revolution, calling his friends to 
arms under what is known as the "Plan de Noria," a 
platform, in reality, in which the leading demand was for 


an amendment to the constitution absolutely forbidding 
the re-election of either president or governors. This 
rebellion also met with ignominious defeat on the bat- 
tlefield at the hands of the government forces, and when 
Juarez died in July, 1872, Diaz was a fugitive from 
justice. During one of these little rebellions of the 
present superman Juarez is said to have captured and 
brought Diaz before him and told him that he deserved 
to be shot like a rebel, but that the country would take 
into consideration his services rendered during the War 
of Intervention. 

After the death of Juarez, Diaz prosecuted a success- 
ful revolution, but only after four years more of plot- 
ting and rebelling. The people of the country were 
overwhelmingly against him, but he found one very defi- 
nite interest upon which to play. That, far from being 
a peaceful and legitimate interest, was a military inter- 
est, the interest of the chiefs of the army and of those 
who had made their living by killing and plundering. 
The government of Juarez and the government of 
Lerdo both carried out, after peace came, a sweeping 
anti-militarist policy. They announced their intention 
of reducing the army and proceeded to reduce the army. 
Thereupon the chiefs thereof, seeing their glory depart- 
ing from them, became fertile ground for the seeds of 
rebellion which Diaz was strewing broadcast. Diaz 
gave these army chiefs to understand that under him 
they would not be shorn of their military splendor, but, 
on the other hand, that they would be raised to posi- 
tions of higher power. 

Lerdo issued an amnesty to all revolutionists and Diaz 
was safe from prosecution as a rebel. But instead of 
employing the freedom thus given to useful and honor- 


able pursuits, he used it to facilitate his plotting until, 
in January, 1876, he started his third revolution, issuing 
his "Plan de Tuxtepec," in which he again demanded 
a change prohibiting the re-election of the president. 

For nearly a year Diaz prosecuted his third revolu- 
tion, during that time issuing another manifesto, the 
"Plan de Palo Blanco," which gave his operations the 
aspect of still another and a fourth revolution. It was 
under this plan that the rebel leader finally gained a deci- 
sive victory over government troops and soon after- 
wards led his army into the capital and declared himself 
provisional president. A few days later he held a farci- 
cal election, in which he placed soldiers in possession of 
the polls and permitted neither rival candidates to appear 
nor opposition votes to be cast. 

Thus in 1876, more than a generation ago, Porfirio 
Diaz came to the head of the Mexican state a rebel in 
arms. He broke the peace of Mexico to begin with, and 
he has continued to break the peace by periodical and 
wholesale butcheries of his people. General Porfirio 
Diaz, the "greatest living peace-maker," "prince of 
peace!" It is a sacrilege! 

That the Mexican dictator has not fallen a victim to 
the physical debaucheries that sometimes over-tempt men 
suddenly risen to great power is undoubtedly true. But 
what of it? Certainly no one will argue that, since a 
man keeps clean physically, he has a right to misgovern 
a country and assassinate a people. Personal cleanli- 
ness, physical temperance and marital virtue do not in 
the least determine the standing a man deserves as a 

Thus it will be seen that the allegations upon which 
the good fame of General Diaz is based have no founda- 
tion in fact. Moreover, none of his flatterers have so 


far discovered in him any claims for greatness any bet- 
ter substantiated than those mentioned. 

Diaz has some personal abilities, such as a genius for 
organization, keen judgment of human nature, and indus- 
try, but these do not determine that his public acts shall 
be beneficent. Like the virtues the devout Methodist 
kdy attributed to the Devil, industry and persistence, 
they merely render him more efficient in what he does. 
If he chooses to do good, they become virtues; if he 
chooses to do ill, they may very properly be incorporated 
with his vices. 

The flatterers of Porfirio Diaz are wont to speak in 
generalities, for otherwise they would come to grief. 
On the other hand, a large book could be written re- 
counting his evil deeds and contemptible traits. In- 
gratitude is one of the charges least worthy of mention 
that are made against him. Benito Juarez made the 
career of Porfirio Diaz. Every promotion which Diaz 
received was given him by the hands of Juarez. Never- 
theless, Diaz turned against his country and his friend, 
started rebellion after rebellion and made the last days 
of the great patriot turbulent and unhappy. 

Yet, to portray the other side, Diaz has shown grati- 
tude to some of his friends, and in doing so he has at 
the same time exhibited his utter disregard for the pub- 
lic welfare. An Indian named Cahuantzi, illiterate but 
rich, was Diaz's friend when the latter was in rebellion 
against Juarez and Lerdo. Cahuantzi furnished the 
rebel with horses and money and when Diaz captured 
the supreme power he did not forget. He made Cahu- 
antzi governor of Tlaxcala and sent him a teacher that 
he might learn to sign his name to documents of state. 
He retained Cahuantzi as governor of the state of 
Tlaxcala, giving him free rein to rob and plunder at 


will. He kept Cahuantzi there for thirty-four years, 
down to this day. 

A similar case was that of Manuel Gonzalez, a com- 
padre who aided the Diaz rebellions and whom Diaz 
substituted for himself in the presidential chair from 
1880 to 1884. After Gonzalez had served his purpose in 
the federal government Don Porfirio presented him with 
the state government of Guanajuato, where he reigned 
until his death. Gonzalez was wont to boast that the 
government had killed all the bandits in Guanajuato 
but himself, that he was the only bandit tolerated in that 

The flatterers of Diaz tell of his intellectual ability, 
but of his culture they dare say nothing. The question 
as to whether or not he is a cultivated man would seem 
important inasmuch as it would determine somewhat 
the distribution of culture among the people whom he 
controls so absolutely. Diaz is intelligent, but his in- 
telligence may very well be denominated a criminal in- 
telligence — such as is needed at the head of a great free- 
booter corporation or an organization such as Tammany 
Hall. In devising ways and means to strengthen his 
personal power Diaz's intelligence has risen even to 
genius, but of refinement and culture he possesses lit- 
tle or none. Despite the necessity of his meeting for- 
eigners almost daily he has never learned English nor 
any other foreign language. He never reads anything 
but press clippings and books about himself and he never 
studies anything but the art of keeping himself in power. 
He is interested in neither music, art, literature nor the 
drama and the encouragement he gives to these things is 
negligible. Mexico's drama is imported from Spain, 
Italy and France. Her literature is imported from 
France and Spain. Her art and music are likewise im- 


ported. Within a century past art flourished in Mex- 
ico, but now her art is decadent — choked Hke her bud- 
ding Hterature, by the thorns of poHtical tyranny. 

General education in Mexico is appalHngly absent. 
The flatterers of Diaz tell of the schools that he has es- 
tablished, but the investigator fails to find these schools. 
They are mostly on paper. There is practically no such 
thing as country schools in Mexico, while towns of 
many hundreds of inhabitants often have no school 
whatsoever. Nominally there are schools in such towns, 
but actually there are none because the governors of the 
various states prefer to keep the expense money for 
themselves. While traveling in the rural districts of the 
state of Mexico, for example, I learned that scores of 
schools in small towns had been closed for three years 
because the governor, General Fernando Gonzalez, had 
withheld the money, explaining to the local authorities 
that he needed it for other purposes. The fact that 
there is no adequate public school system in Mexico is 
attested by the most recent official census (1900), which 
goes to show that but 16 per cent of the population are 
able to read and write. Compare this with Japan, an 
over-populated country where the people are very poor 
and where the opportunities for education seemingly 
ought not to be so good. Ninety-eight per cent of 
Japanese men and 93 per cent of Japanese women are 
able to read and write. The sort of educational ideals 
held by President Diaz is shown in the schools that are 
running, where a most important item in the curricu- 
lum is military study and training ! 

Is Diaz humane? The question is almost superfluous, 
inasmuch as few of his admirers credit him with this 
trait. All admit that he has been severe and harsh, even 
brutal, in his treatment of his enemies, while some of 


them even relate deeds of the most bloodthirsty cru- 
elty — relate them with gusto, condemning not at all, 
but treating the incidents as if they were merely some 
excusable eccentricities of genius! The wholesale kill- 
ings carried out by the orders of Diaz, the torture per- 
petrated in his prisons, the slavery of hundreds of thou- 
sands of his people, the heart-breaking poverty which 
he sees every time he leaves his palace, and which he 
could greatly ameliorate if he wished, are of themselves 
sufficient proof of his inhumanity. 

Cruelty was undoubtedly a part of his inheritance, 
for his father, a horse-breaker by trade, was noted for 
It. Horses which did not yield readily Chepe Diaz, the 
father, killed, and others he chastised with a whip 
tipped with a steel star, which he landed on the belly, 
the most tender part of the poor brute. For this rea- 
son the people of Oaxaca, the birthplace of Diaz, pat- 
ronized the father but little, and he was poor. That in- 
herited trait showed itself in Porfirio at an extremely 
tender age, for while only a child Porfirio, becoming 
angry at his brother over a trivial matter, filled his 
brother's nostrils with gunpowder while he was asleep 
and touched a match to it. From that time Felix was 
known as "Chato" (Pug-nose) Diaz. "For Porfirio 
Diaz" — in the words of Gutierrez De Lara, "the people 
of Mexico have been the horse." 

As a military commander Diaz was noted for his 
cruelty to his own soldiers and to any portion of the 
enemy that happened to fall into his Hands. Several 
Mexican writers mention unwarranted acts of severity 
and executions of subordinates ordered in the heat of 
passion. Revenge is a twin brother of cruelty and Diaz 
was revengeful. Terrible was the revenge visited by 
the child upon his sleeping brother and terrible was the 


revenge visited upon the town where his brother many 
years later met a tragic death. 

Accounts of the incident differ, but all authorities 
agree that the massacre at Juchitan, Oaxaca, was done 
in cold blood, indiscriminately and out of revenge. On 
becoming president, Diaz installed his brother "Chato" 
as governor of Oaxaca. "Chato" was a drunkard and 
a libertine and he was killed while over-riding the per- 
sonal liberties of the people of the town of Juchitan. 
Many weeks later, long after the uprising of a day had 
passed, President Diaz sent troops to Juchitan who, 
according to one writer, suddenly appeared one evening 
in the public square where the people had gathered to 
listen to the music of a band, and poured volley after 
volley into the crowd, continuing to fire until all the 
people left in the square were dead or dying on the 

Such killings have been a recognized policy of the 
Diaz rule. The Rio Blanco massacre, the details of 
which were set forth in a previous chapter, took place 
after the town was entirely quiet. The executions in 
Cananea were carried out with little discrimination and 
after the alleged disturbance of the strikers was over. 
The summary executions at Velardena in the Spring 
of 1909 all took place after the so-called riot was over. 
And other instances could be given. It may be sug- 
gested that in some of these cases not Diaz, but an un- 
derling, was responsible. But it is well known that 
Diaz usually gave the orders for distributing indis- 
criminate death. That he approves of such a policy as 
a policy is shown by his remarkable toast to General 
Bernardo Reyes, after the Monterey massacre in 1903. 
when he said: "Senor General, that is the way to gov- 


The inhuman methods used by Diaz to exterminate 
the Yaqui Indians have been exploited in a previous 
chapter. One of his famous Yaqui orders which, how- 
ever, I did not mention, not only exhibits his rude and 
uncultured ideas of justice, but it paints his cruelty as 
most diabolical. Several years ago, after various em- 
ployers of labor of the state of Sonora had protested 
against the wholesale deportation of the Yaquis be- 
cause they needed the Yaquis as farm and mine laborers, 
Diaz, in order to pacify the aforesaid employers, mod- 
ified his deportation decree to read substantially as fol- 
lows: "No more Yaquis are to be deported except in 
case of offenses being committed by Yaquis. For every 
offense hereafter committed by any Yaqui 500 Yaquis 
are to be rounded up and deported to Yucatan." 

This decree is attested to by no less a personage than 
Francisco I. Madero, the distinguished citizen of the 
state of Coahuila, who dared oppose Diaz in the presi- 
dential campaign of 1910. The decree was carried out, 
or at least the stream of Yaqui exiles kept on. Cruel 
and revengeful is the Mexican president and bitterly 
has his nation suffered as a result of it. 

Is Diaz a brave man? In some quarters it has been 
taken for granted that he is a man of courage, inas- 
much as he made a success as a soldier. But there are 
many distinguished Mexicans who, having watched his 
career, assert that he is not only not brave, but that 
he is a shrinking, cringing coward. And they point to 
numerous accepted facts to support their assertion. 
When the news of the uprising at Las Vacas reached 
him in the last days of June, 1908, Diaz was suddenly 
taken sick and for five days he staid in his bed. In high 
government circles it was whispered about — and the 
fact is alleged to have come from one of his physicians 


— that he was suffering from a common malady which 
comes upon one overpowered by acute and panicky fear. 
The fact that when Diaz seized the power he carefully 
excluded from any part in the government each and 
every one of the most popular and able Mexicans of the 
day is attributed to fear. The fact that he maintains a 
large army which he distributes in every quarter of the 
country, and a huge secret police system armed with 
extraordinary power to kill on suspicion, the terrible 
way in which he gets rid of his enemies, his bloody 
massacres themselves, even his muzzling of the press, 
are all attributed to arrant cowardice. In his book 
*'Diaz, Czar of Mexico," Carlo de Fornaro voices this 
belief in the cowardice of Diaz and reasons quite ef- 
fectively upon it. He says: 

"Like all people quick to anger he (Diaz) is not really fear- 
less, for as the jungle song says, 'Anger is the egg of fear.* 
Fearful and therefore ever vigilant, he was saved from destruc- 
tion by this alertness, as the hare is preserved from capture by 
his long ears. He mistook cruelty for strength of character 
and consequently was ever ready to terrorize for fear of being 
thought weak. As a result of the outrageous nickel law and 
the payment of the famous English debt in the period of 
Gonzalez, there happened a mutiny. 'Knife them all,' suggested 
Porfirio Diaz to Gonzalez. But Gonzalez was not afraid. 

"Last year, on the 16th of September, as the Mexican students 
desired to parade on the streets of the capital, they sent their 
representative, a Mr. Olea, to beg the President's permission. 
Porfirio Diaz answered: 'Yes, but beware, for the Mexicans 
have revolutionary tendencies lurking in their blood.' Think of 
three score of youngsters parading unarmed being a menace to 
the republic, with 5,000 soldiers, rurales and policemen in the 
capital ! 

"It is only by admitting this shameful well-hidden stigma on 
the apparently brave front of this man that we can logically 
explain such despicable and infamous acts as the massacres 
of Veracruz and Orizaba. He was then panic-stricken, like a 


wanderer, who shoots wildly at the fleeing phantoms of the 
night; he was so terrorized that the only means of relieving his 
blue funk was to terrorize in return." 

Hand in hand with cruelty and cowardice often 
travels hypocrisy and of the three Diaz is not the least 
endowed with hypocrisy. Constantly is he foisting new 
shams and deceptions and farces upon the public. His 
election farces and his periodical pretense of wishing 
to retire from the presidency and the reluctantly yield- 
ing to a universal demand on the part of his people have 
already been referred to. Diaz's rule began in hypocrisy, 
for he went into office on a platform which he had no no- 
tion of carrying out. He pretended to consider the doc- 
trine of non-re-election of president and governors of 
enough importance to warrant turning the nation over in 
a revolution, yet as soon as he had entrenched himself in 
power he proceeded to re-elect himself as well as his 
governors on to the end of time. 

When Elihu Root went in to Mexico to see Diaz and 
to arrange some matters in regard to Magdalena Bay 
Diaz was desirous of showing Root that the Mexican 
people were not as poverty-stricken as they had been 
painted. He therefore, through his Department of the 
Interior, distributed the day before Root's arrival in 
the capital, 5,000 pairs of new pantaloons among that 
class of workmen who were habitually most prominently 
on the streets. In spite of orders that the pants were 
to be worn, the majority of them were promptly ex- 
changed for food, and so Mr. Root was probably not 
very badly fooled. The incident merely goes to show 
to what extents the petty hypocrisy of the Mexican ruler 
sometimes goes. 

Diaz is the head of the Masons in Mexico, yet he 
nominates every new bishop and archbishop the country 


gets. Church marriages are not recognized as legal, yet 
Diaz has favored the church so far as to refuse to 
enact a divorce law, so that today there is no such thing 
as divorce or re-marriage during the life of both parties 
in Mexico. Constantly is Diaz trying to fool the peo- 
ple as to his own motives. He brought about the merger 
under national control of the two leading railway sys- 
tems of the country, ostensibly to put the railways where 
the government can use them best in time of war, but 
actually in order to give his friends an opportunity to 
make millions in the juggling of securities. Deceits of 
this class could be enumerated ad infinitum. 

One of the most notable hypocritical antics of Diaz 
is his pretended concurrence in the overwhelmingly pop- 
ular idolatry of the patriot Juarez. It will be remem- 
bered that when Juarez died Diaz was in revolution 
against him and that therefore if it is conceded that 
Juarez was a great statesman it must be admitted that 
Diaz was wrong in rebelling. Diaz undoubtedly recog- 
nized this fact and some ten years ago he is said to have 
aided secretly the publication and circulation of a book 
which attempted, by new and cleverly written inter- 
pretations of the acts of Juarez, to make out the father 
of the constitution a great blunderer instead of a great 
statesman. This failed to turn the tide against Juarez, 
however, and Diaz fell in with the tide until nowadays 
we see him every year, on the occasion of the birthday 
of Juarez, delivering a eulogistic speech over the tomb 
of the man against whom he rebelled. More than this, 
during each speech Diaz sheds tears — rains tears— and 
is wont to refer to Juarez as "my great teacher!" 

The ability to shed tears freely and on the slightest 
provocation has, indeed, been named by Diaz's enemies 
as his greatest asset as a statesman. When a distin- 


guished visitor praises Diaz or his work Diaz cries— 
and the visitor is touched and drawn toward him. When 
the "Circulo de Amigos de General Diaz" pays its for- 
mal call to tell its creator that the country once more 
demands his re-election he weeps — and the foreign press 
remarks upon how that man does love his country. 
Once a year, on his birthday, the president of Mexico 
goes down into the street and shakes hands with his 
people. The reception takes place in front of the na- 
tional palace and all the while the tears are raining 
down his cheeks — and the soft-hearted people say to 
themselves : "Poor old man, he's had his troubles. Let 
him end his life in peace." 

Diaz has always been able to cry. While striving 
against the Lerdist government in 1876, just before his 
day of success came, he was beaten in the battle of 
Icamole. He thought it meant an end of his hopes and 
he cried like a baby, while his subordinate officers looked 
on in shame. This gained him the nickname of "The 
weeper of Icamole," which still sticks to him among his 
enemies. In his memoirs Lerdo calls Diaz "The Man 
Who Weeps." 

An oft-related incident which shows the shallowness 
of the feeling which accompanies the Diaz tears is told 
by Fornaro as follows: 

"When Captain Clodomoro Cota was sentenced by the mili- 
tary tribunal to be shot, his father sought the President, and on 
his knees, weeping, begged him to pardon his son. Porfirio Diaz 
also was weeping, but, lifting the despairing man, uttered this 
ambiguous phrase: 'Have courage and faith in justice.' The 
father left, consoled, believing that his petition had been 
answered. But on the following morning his son was shot 
The tears of Porfirio Diaz are crocodile tears." 

It IS said that Diaz does not dissipate. At least he 
drinks deep and drunkenly of the wine of adulation. 


Both vanity and lack of refinement and taste are shown 
by the very coarseness and ridiculousness of the praise 
for which he pays and in which he revels. 

Diaz is not noted for avarice, which is not surprising, 
inasmuch as the power that he wields by reason of the 
army and the rest of his machine is far greater than any 
power that money could buy in Mexico. To Porfirio 
Diaz money and other cashable goods are but a pawn 
in the game, and he uses them to buy the support of 
the greedy. Yet his enemies declare that he is the rich- 
est man in Mexico. He keeps his financial affairs so 
well hidden that few can guess how large a fortune he 
has. It is known that he has large holdings under 
aliases and in the names of dummies and that the vari- 
ous members of his family are all wealthy. But why 
should Porfirio Diaz care for mere money, when all 
Mexico is his — his with no strings upon it except the 
strings of foreign capital? 

The picture sometimes drawn of the love match of 
Don Porfirio and Carmelita Romero Rubio de Diaz, 
while pretty, is not true ; the truth is not at all flattering 
to the personal virtues of Diaz. The facts are that lit- 
tle Carmen was forced to marry Diaz for purposes of 
state. Her father, Romero Rubio, had held a high po- 
sition in the Lerdist government and had a strong per- 
sonal following; her god-father was Lerdo de Tejada 
himself, while little Carmen, together with the other 
feminine members of the family, was a devout Catholic. 
By marrying the girl Diaz hoped to kill three birds with 
one stone, to win the support of her father, to turn 
aside the enmity of the friends of Lerdo, and to assure 
to himself more actively than ever the support of the 
church. He knew that Carmen not only did not love 
him, but that she wanted to marry another man, and 


yet he was a party to her forced marriage. The mar- 
riage did give him the more active support of the church, 
it won Don Romero Rubio, but as for Lerdo, he was 
obdurate. In his memoirs Lerdo prints some letters 
from the unhappy Carmen, his god-child, to show how 
her youth and innocence were employed as merchandise 
in Diaz's mad barter for political security. One of these 
letters, which also gives an interesting side-light on the 
times, is as follows: 

"Mexico City, Jan. 1, 1885. 

"Sr. Lie. Don Sebastian Lerdo de Tejada. 

"My Very Dear God-Father i—If you continue to be displeased 
with Papa, that is no reason why you should persist in being 
so with me; you know better than anyone that my marriage 
with General Diaz was the exclusive work of my parents, for 
whom, for the sake of pleasing them, I have sacrificed my heart, 
if it can be called a sacrifice to have given my hand to a man 
who adores me and to whom I respond only with filial affection. 
To unite myself with an enemy of yours has not been to curse 
you ; on the contrary, I have desired to be the dove that with the 
olive branch calms the political torments of my country. I do 
not fear that God will punish me for having taken this step, 
as the greatest punishment will be to have children by a man 
whom I do not love; nevertheless, I shall respect him and be 
faithful to him all my life. You have nothing, God-father, with 
which to reproach me. I have conducted myself with perfect 
correctness inside the social, moral and religious laws. Can 
you blame the Archduchess Marie of Austria for uniting herself 
with Napoleon? Since my marriage I am constantly sur- 
rounded by a crowd of flatterers, so much the more contemptible 
since I do not encourage them. They do not fail in anything 
except in falling down on their knees and kissing my feet, as 
happened with the golden princesses of Perrault. From the 
deputation of beggars with whom I became acquainted yesterday 
to the minister who begged a peseta in order to dine, on the 
staircase ascending or descending, all mix together and trample 
each other under foot, entreating for a salute, a smile, a glance. 
Th^ same who in a time not so very remote would have refused 


to give me their hand had they seen me fall on the sidewalk^ 
today crawl like reptiles in my path, and would consider them- 
selves happy if the wheels of my carriage should pass over 
their unclean bodies. The other night, while expectorating in the 
aisle of the theatre, a general who was at my side interposed 
his handkerchief, in order that the saliva, each precious pearl, 
should not fall on the tile floor. If we had been alone, surely 
the miserable creature would have converted his mouth into a 
cuspidor. This is not the exquisite flattery of educated folk; 
it is the brutal servility of the rabble in its animal and repul- 
sive form, in that of a slave. The p'^ets, the minor poets and 
the poetasters each martyr me after his own fashion; it is a 
waterspout of ink fit to blacken the ocean itself. This calamity 
irritates my nerves to such an extent that at times I have 
attacks of hysteria. Horrible, isn't it, dear God-father? And 
I say nothing to you of the paragraphs and articles published 
by the press that Papa has hired. Those who do not call me 
an angel say that I am a cherub ; others raise me to the standard 
of a goddess; others place me in the firmament as a star, and 
still others put me down in botany, classifying me among the 
lilies, the marguerites and the jasmin. At times I myself do not 
know whether I am an angel, a cherub, a goddess, a star, a lily, 
a marguerite, a jasmin, or a woman. Dios! Whom am I that 
I am deified and enveloped in this cloud of fetid incense? Ah, 
my God-father, I am very unfortunate, and I hope that you will 
not deny me your pardon and your advice. 


Is Diaz patriotic? Has he the welfare of Mexico 
at heart? The flatterers of Diaz sv^ear by his patriot- 
ism, but the facts demand a negative answer. Diaz 
helped depose the foreign prince, but immediately after- 
wards he plunged a peaceful country into war to feed 
his own ambition. Perhaps it will be said that Diaz 
imagined that he could order the destinies of Mexico 
more for the benefit of Mexico than could anyone else. 
Doubtless, but why has he not given his country prog- 
ress? Is it possible that he believes that autocracy is 
better for a people than democracy? Is it possible that 


he considers illiteracy a condition of the greatest possi- 
ble happiness for a people? Can he believe that a state 
of chronic starvation contributes to the welfare of a 
nation? He is an old man — eighty years old. Why 
does he not make some provision against political chaos 
after his death? Is it possible that he believes it to be 
best for his people never to attempt to govern them- 
selves, and for this reason is wrecking his nation so as 
to prepare it for easy possession by foreigners? 

It is impossible to believe these things of Diaz. It is 
eminently more reasonable to judge that whatever de- 
sire for the welfare of his country he possesses is over- 
shadowed, wiped off the slate, by a personal ambition to 
maintain his rule for life. 

This, in my judgment, is a key to the character and 
the public acts of Porfirio Diaz — to stay there — to stay 

How will this move affect the security of my posi- 
tion? I believe this question has been the one test for 
the acts of Porfirio Diaz in all those thirty-four years. 
This question has always been before him. With it he 
has eaten, drank, slept. With it before him he was 
married. With it he built a machine, enriched his friends 
and disposed of his enemies, buying some and killing 
others ; with it he has flattered and gifted the foreigner, 
favored the church, kept temperance in his body and 
learned a martial carriage; with it he set one friend 
against another, fostered prejudice between his people 
and other peoples, paid the printer, cried in the sight 
of the multitude when there was no sorrow in his soul 
and — wrecked his country! 

Upon what thread hangs the good fame of Porfirio 
Diaz with Americans? Upon that one fact, that he has 
wrecked his country — and prepared it for easy posses- 


sion by foreigners. Porfirio Diaz is giving to Ameri- 
cans the lands of Mexico; the people he is permitting 
them to enslave; therefore he is the greatest living 
statesman, hero of the Americans, the maker of Mexico ! 
A wonderful man, that he is intelligent and far-seeing 
enough to appreciate the fact that, of all nations, the 
American is the only one with virtue and ability enough 
to lift Mexico out of its Slough of Despond! As for 
the Mexican, let him die. He is only fit to feed the 
grist mill of American capital, anyhow! 



Since, in the last analysis, all apologies for the Diaz 
system of economic slavery and political autocracy have 
their roots in assertions of ethnological inferiority on 
the part of the Mexican people, it would seem wise to 
end this book with an examination of the character of 
Mexicans and a discussion of the arguments upon which 
Americans are wont to defend a system in Mexico such 
as they would not for a moment excuse in any other 

Every defense of Diaz is an attack upon the Mexican 
people. It must be so, since there is no other conceiv- 
able defense of despotism except that the people are 
so weak or so wicked that they cannot be trusted to take 
care of themselves. 

The gist of the defense is that the Mexican must be 
ruled from above because he "is not fit for democracy," 
that he must be enslaved for the sake of "progress," 
since he would do nothing for himself or the world were 
he not compelled to do it through fear of the whip or 
acute starvation, that he must be enslaved because he 
knows nothing better than slavery and that he is happy 
in slavery, anyhow. All of which, in the end, resolve 
themselves into the simple proposition that because he 
is down he ought to be kept down. Incurable laziness, 
childish superstition, wanton improvidence, constitu- 
tional stupidity, immovable conservatism, impenetrable 
ignorance, an uncontrollable propensity for theft, 
drunkenness and cowardice are some of the vices at- 



tributed to the Mexican people by those same persons 
who declare their ruler to be the wisest and most beat- 
ific on the face of the earth. 

Laziness, in the estimation of the American friends 
of Diaz, is the cardinal vice of the Mexican. Laziness 
has always been a cardinal vice in the eyes of the grind- 
ers of the poor. American planters actually expect the 
Mexican to work himself to death for the love of it! 
Or is it for the love of his master that he expects him 
to work? Or for the dignity of labor? 

But the Mexican does not appreciate such things. 
And, failing to receive anything more tangible for his 
work, he "soldiers'* on the job. Wherefore he is not 
only lazy, but stupid ! Wherefore, it is right and proper 
that he should be driven to the field with clubs, that he 
should be hunted down, forced into enganchado gangs, 
locked up at night, and starved. 

It may be information to some persons to tell them 
that Mexicans have been known to work willingly and 
effectively when they saw anything to work for. Tens 
of thousands of Mexicans have displaced Americans and 
Japanese on the railroads and in the fields of the Amer- 
ican Southwest. As high an authority as E. H. Harri- 
man said, in an interview published in the Los Angeles 
Times in March, 1909: "We have had a good deal of 
experience with the Mexican, and we have found that 
after he is fed up and gets his strength he makes a very 
good worker." 

Note that. *' After he is fed up and gets his strength" 
Which is saying, in effect, that the employers of Mex- 
ican labor, many of whom are estimable Americans, 
friends of Diaz, starve them so chronically that they 
have not the actual strength to work effectively. Thus 
we have a second reason why Mexicans sometimes 


"soldier" on the job. Worthless, worthless Mexicans! 
Virtuous, virtuous Americans! 

The American promoter feels a personal grievance 
at the religious bigotry of the poor Mexican. It is be- 
cause of the church fiestas, which give the Mexican a 
few extra holidays a month, when he is free to take 
them. Profits are lost on those fiesta days; hence the 
anguish of the American promoter. Hence the wel- 
come which the American gives to a system of labor 
such as we find in Valle Nacional, where the cane of 
bejuco wood is mightier than the priest, where there 
are neither feast days nor Sundays, nor any days when 
the club does not drive the slave to the back-breaking 
labor of the field. 

"They told us labor was cheap down here," an Amer- 
ican once said to me in a grieved tone. "Cheap? Of 
course. Dirt cheap. But it has its drawbacks." He 
expected every "hand" to do as much work as an able- 
bodied American and to live on thin air besides ! 

Far be it from me to express approval of the influ- 
ence of the Catholic church upon the Mexican. Yet it 
must be admitted that the church alleviates his misery 
somewhat by providing him with some extra holidays. 
And it feeds his hunger for sights of beauty and sounds 
of sweetness, which for the poor Mexican are usually 
impossible of attainment outside of a church. If the 
rulers of the land had been enlightened and had given 
the Mexican the barest glimpse of brightness outside of 
the church the sway of the priest might have been less 
pronounced than it is today. 

Those fiestas which are such a thorn in the side of 
the American promoter are useful to him at least in 
that they furnish him with an excuse for paying the 



wage-worker so little that it is an extravagance, indeed, 
for the latter to take a day off. "They're so improvident 
that I have to keep them at the starvation point or they 
won't work at all.'* You'll hear Americans saying that 
almost any day in Mexico. In illustration of which 
numerous stories are virtuously recounted. 

Improvident! Yes, the starving Mexican is improvi- 
dent. He spends his money to keep from starving! 
Yes, there are cases where he is paid such munificent 
wages that he is able to save a centavo now and then 
if he tries. And, trying, he finds that providence boots 
him nothing. He finds that the moment he gets a few 
dollars ahead he at once becomes a mark for every 
grafting petty official within whose ken he falls. If the 
masters of Mexico wished their slaves to be provident 
they should give them an opportunity to get something 
ahead and then guarantee not to steal it back again. 

The poor Mexican is accused of being an inveterate 
thief. The way a Mexican laborer will accept money 
and then try to run away, instead of working for the 
rest of his life to pay off the debt, is, indeed, enough 
to bring tears to the eyes of the American grinder of 
enganchados. The American promoter steals the very 
life blood of the laborer and then expects the latter to 
be so steeped in virtue as to refrain from stealing any 
part of it back again. When a Mexican peon sees a 
trinket or a pretty thing that takes his fancy he is quite 
likely to steal it, for it is the only way he can get it. 
He risks jail for an article worth a few centavos. How 
often would he do it if the payment of those few cen- 
tavos would not mean a hungry day for him? Amer- 
ican planters steal laborers, carry them away by force 
to their plantations, steal their families away from them, 


lock them up at night, beat them, starve them while they 
work, neglect them when they are sick, pay them noth- 
ing, kill them at the last, and then raise their hands in 
righteous horror when a poor fellow steals an extra 
tortilla or an ear of corn! 

In Mexico plowing is often done with a crooked stick 
or with the hoe. The backs of men take the place of 
freight wagons and express vehicles. In short, Mexico 
is woefully behind in the use of modern machinery. 
For which the Mexican is accused of being unprogres- 

But the common people do not choose how much 
machinery shall be used in the country. The master 
does that. American promoters in Mexico are little 
more progressive in the use of machinery than are Mex- 
ican promoters, and when they are they frequently lose 
money by it. Why? Because flesh and blood are 
cheaper in Mexico than machinery. A peon is cheaper 
to own than a horse. A peon is cheaper than a plow. 
A hundred women can be bought for the price of a 
grist mill. It is because the master has made it so. If 
by some means the price of flesh and blood were sud- 
denly to be shoved up above that of dead steel, machin- 
ery would flow into Mexico as fast as it would flow 
into any new industrial field in the United States or any 
other country. 

Do not think that the Mexican is too stupid to oper- 
ate machinery when he is put to it. There are some 
lines in which machine labor is cheaper than hand labor 
and we have only to look to these lines to learn that the 
Mexican can handle machinery quite as easily as any 
other people. Native labor operates the great cotton 
mills of Mexico almost exclusively, for example. For 
that matter, mechanical cunning of a high order is shown 


in the many hand arts and crafts practiced by the na- 
tives, the blanket weaving, the pottery making, the rpak- 
ing of laces, the manufacture of curios. 

Ignorance is charged against the Mexican people as 
if it were a crime. On the other hand, we are told, in 
glowing terms of the public school system which Diaz 
has established. Charles F. Lummis in his book on Mex- 
ico remarks that it is doubtful if there is a single hamlet 
of one hundred Mexicans in all the country that has not 
its free public school. The truth is that the people 
are ignorant and that there are few schools. The sort 
of authority Mr. Lummis is may be gauged by the gov- 
ernment statistics themselves, which, in the year Mr. 
Lummis issued his book, placed the number of Mexi- 
cans who could read and write at sixteen per cent of the 
population. In Mexico there are some public schools 
in the cities and almost none in the country districts. 
But even if they were there, can a hungry baby learn 
to read and write? What promise does study hold out 
for a youth born to shoulder a debt of his father and 
carry it on to the end of his days? 

And they say the Mexican is happy! "As happy as 
a peon," has come to be a common expression. Can a 
starving man be happy? Is there any people on earth — 
any beast of the field, even — so peculiar of nature that 
it loves cold better than warmth, an empty stomach bet- 
ter than a full one ? Where is the scientist that has dis- 
covered a people who would choose an ever narrowing 
horizon to an ever widening one ? Depraved indeed are 
the Mexican people if they are happy. But I do not be- 
live they are happy. Some who have said it lied know- 
ingly. Others mistook the dull glaze of settled despair 
for the signature of contentment. 

Most persistent of all derogations of Mexicans is the 


one that the Spanish-American character is somehow 
incapable of democracy and therefore needs the strong 
hand of a dictator. Since the Spanish-Americans of 
Mexico have never had a fair trial at democracy, and 
since those who are asserting that they are incapable of 
democracy are just the ones who are trying hardest to 
prevent them from having a trial at democracy, the 
suspicion naturally arises that those persons have an ul- 
terior motive in spreading such an impression. That 
motive has been pretty well elucidated in previous chap- 
ters of this book, especially in the one on the American 
partners of Diaz. 

The truth of the whole malignment of Mexicans as 
a people seems very plain. It is a defense against in- 
defensible conditions whereby the defenders are profit- 
ing. It is an excuse — an excuse for hideous cruelty, a 
salve to the conscience, an apology to the world, a de- 
fense against the vengeance of eternity. 

The truth is that the Mexican is a human being and 
that he is subject to the same evolutionary laws of 
growth as are potent in the development of any other 
people. The truth is that, if the Mexican does not fully 
measure up to the standard of the highest type of Euro- 
pean, it is because of his history, a most influential part 
of which is the grinding exploitation to which he is sub- 
jected under the present regime in Mexico. Let us go 
back to the beginning and glance briefly at the Mexican 
as an ethnological being and compare his abilities and 
possibilities with that of the "free" American. 

While nearly all persons of more than primary educa- 
tion nominally accept the theory of evolution as the cor- 
rect interpretation of life upon this planet, not so many 
of us take advantage of its truths in estimating the peo- 
ple about us. We cling, instead, to the old error of ex- 


istence by special creation, which supports us when we 
wish to believe that some men are created of superior 
clay, that some are inherently better than others and 
always must be better, that some are designed and in- 
tended to occupy a station of special rank and privilege 
among their fellow men. Forgotten is the scientific 
truth that all men are shoots from the same stalk, that 
intrinsically one man is no better than another, that in 
the fulness of time the possibilities of one race or people 
are no greater than those of any other. Whatever differ- 
ences there are between men and races of men are due, 
not to inherent differences, but to the action of outside 
influences, to soil and climate, to temperature and rain- 
fall, and to what may be denominated the accidents of 
history following naturally, however, in the train of 
these influences. "A man*s a man for a* that and a* 

But there are differences. There are differences in 
general between Americans and Mexicans. Let us see 
if there are any differences which justify the condemna- 
tion of Mexicans to slavery and government by a 

What is a Mexican? Usually the term is applied 
to the members of a mixed race, part native and part 
Spanish, who predominate in the so-called sister repub- 
lic. Pure natives who long ago left the aboriginal state 
are also often included in the category and they seem 
to have a right to the name. In the government cen- 
sus of 1900 the proportion of races is given as 43 per 
cent mixed, 38 pure native and 19 of European or dis- 
tinct foreign extraction. The Mexican Year Book 
thinks that the proportion of mixed peoples has greatly 
increased in the past ten years until it is far more than 
half the total today. The Mexican of today, then, is 


either all Spanish, all native, or a mixture of the two, 
most often the last; so the peculiar character of Mexi- 
cans can be said to be made up of a combination of the 
two elements. 

Take the Spanish element, first. What are the pe- 
culiar attributes of the Spanish nature? In Spain we 
find much art and literature, but on the other hand, 
much religious bigotry and little democracy. We find 
a versatile people, but a people with swift passions and 
fickle energies. In its accomplishments along modern 
lines Spain stands at the foot of the countries of west- 
ern Europe. 

But — why ? 

The answer is to the credit of Spain. Spain sacrificed 
herself to save Europe. Standing upon the southern 
frontier, she bore the brunt of the Moslem invasion. 
Retarding the barbarian hordes, she saved the budding 
civilization of Europe and its religion, Christianity. 
Long after the issue was settled as far as the other na- 
tions were concerned, Spain was still engaged in that 
fight. And in that death-struggle to preserve their ex- 
istence, it was inevitable that the power of the State 
should become more centralized and despotic, that the 
Church should come into closer union with the State, 
that the Church should become more unscrupulous of 
the methods it employed to annex power to itself, more 
sordid of gain, more dogmatic in its teachings and more 
ruthless in the treatment of its enemies. 

Thus is revealed the prime cause for Spain's position 
as a laggard in the path of democracy and religious en- 
lightenment. For the rest, it may be said that, while the 
magnificent scenery of the country has helped to make 
the Spaniard superstitious, it has also helped to make 
him an artist; that while the exuberance of the soil by 


enabling him to secure his living with comparatively lit- 
tle labor, has not forced him to habits of such regular 
industry as are found farther north, it has contributed 
to his cultivating the arts of music, painting and social 
intercourse; that the heat of the summer, by rendering 
hard labor at that season inadvisable, has also militated 
toward the same ends. 

Of course I am not attempting to go into details on 
these matters. I am merely pointing out a few prin- 
ciples which underlie racial diversities. On the whole, 
a close examination of the Spanish people would show 
that there is nothing whatsoever to indicate that they 
are specially unfit or unworthy to enjoy the blessings 
of democracy. 

As to the native element, which is more important, in- 
asmuch as it undoubtedly predominates in the make-up 
of the average Mexican, especially the Mexican of the 
poorer class, an examination of its peculiar character 
will prove quite as favorable. Biologically, the aboriginal 
Mexican is not to be classed with any of the so-called 
lower races, such as the negro, the South Sea Islander, 
the pure Filipino, or the American Indian. The Aztec 
has been a long time out of the forest. His facial angle 
is as good as our own. In many ways he measures up 
to us. In some ways perhaps he even surpasses us, 
while the ways in which he falls below us can all be 
traced either to peculiar external influences, or the luck 
of history, or both. 

It must be admitted that Mexico is not quite as well 
favored for the generation of physical and mental en- 
ergy as is the great portion of the United States. The 
bulk of the population of Diaz-land lives upon a pla- 
teau ranging from 5,000 to 8,000 feet high. Here the 
air is thinner and for every foot-pound of energy ex- 


pended there is a greater tax upon the heart and the 
human machine generally. Americans who take up their 
residence on that plateau find that they must live a lit- 
tle more slowly than in this country, that it is better 
to take the mid-day siesta, like the Mexicans. If they 
persist in keeping up the old gait they find that they 
grow old very fast, that it does not pay. If, on the 
other hand, they choose to live in the tropical belt they 
find that here, too, because of the greater heat and 
moisture, it is not wise for them to work as fast as 
they were wont to do at home. 

If the average Mexican has less working capacity 
than the average American it is largely for this reason, 
and for the other reason that the Mexican laborer is 
invariably half starved. When the American laborer 
meets the Mexican on the latter's own ground he is quite 
often outdone. Few Americans engage in physical la- 
bor either on the plateau or in the tropics. The laborer 
of no nation can outdo the Mexican in carrying heavy 
loads or in feats of endurance, while in the tropics the 
Mexican, if he is not starved, is supreme. The Ameri- 
can negro, the Asiatic coolie, the athletic Yaqui from the 
north, have all been tried out against the native of the 
tropical states and all have been found wanting, while 
there is no question as to the inferiority of the working 
capacity of men of European descent under tropical 

So much for the working capacity of Mexicans, which, 
in this extremely utilitarian age, is placed high among 
the virtues of a people. As to intelligence, in spite of 
the fact that it was always the policy of the Spanish 
conquerers to hold the native Aztecs in subordinate po- 
sitions, enough of the latter have succeeded in forcing 
their way to the top to prove that they were quite as 



capable in the higher functions of civilization as the 
Spaniards themselves. The most brilliant poets, artists, 
writers, musicians, men of science, military heroes and 
constructive statesmen in the history of Mexico were 
natives pure or natives but faintly crossed with the blood 
of Spain. 

On the whole, the Mexicans seem to exhibit stronger 
artistic and literary tendencies than we and less inclina- 
tion toward commerce and heavy mechanics. The mass 
of the people are illiterate, but that does not mean that 
they are stupid. There are undoubtedly several million 
Americans who are able to read but who don't read reg- 
ularly, not even a newspaper, and they are no better in- 
formed, perhaps, and certainly no clearer thinkers, than 
the peons who pass the news of the day from mouth 
to mouth on their Sundays and their feast days. That 
these people are illiterate by choice, that they are poor 
because they v^- at to be, that they prefer dirt to clean- 
liness, is absurd. 

"They choose that sort of life, so why should we 
bother ourselves about their troubles?" "They could 
improve their condition if they cared to make an effort." 
"They are perfectly happy, anyhow.'* Such expres- 
sions are sure to greet the traveler who remarks upon 
the misery of the common Mexican. The fact is, the 
ordinary Mexican chooses the life he lives about as 
nearly so as a horse chooses to be born a horse. As I 
suggested before, he cannot be happy, for no starving 
being can be happy. While as to improving his condi- 
tion alone and unaided he has about as much chance of 
doing it as a horse has of inventing a flying machine. 

Pick up a poor young Mexican in Mexico City, for 
example, where the opportunities are the best in the 
land. Take a typical Mexican laborer. He cannot read 


or write because he was probably born in a country 
district ten miles from the nearest school, or if he was 
born in the shadow of a public school he literally had 
to scratch the earth from the time he could crawl in 
order to get something to eat. He has no education and 
no special training of any kind because he has had no 
opportunity to secure either. Having had no special 
training all he is able to do is to carry heavy loads. 

Probably at twenty-five he is a physical wreck from 
under-feeding, exposure and overwork. But suppose 
he is one of the few who has kept his strength. What 
can he do? Carry more heavy loads; that is all. He 
can get perhaps fifty cents a day carrying heavy loads 
and all the effort of a Hercules cannot better the price, 
for all he has is brawn, and brawn is cheap as dirt in 
Mexico. I have seen men "making an effort." I have 
seen them work until I could see the glazing of their eyes, 
I have seen them put forth such efforts that their chests 
rose and fell with explosive gasps, I have seen them 
carry such heavy weights that they tottered and fell in 
the street, in which way they are crushed to death, some- 
times, by the thing above them. They were putting 
forth their best efforts in the only thing they knew be- 
cause they had never had an opportunity to learn any- 
thing else, and they were dying just as fast as those 
others who did as little as possible to live. The point 
is that they never enjoyed the opportunities at the start 
that we accept as a birthright. Imagine, if you can, 
the majority of our American schools being suddenly 
swept away, imagine a change from your condition of 
partial work partial leisure to one of all work and no 
leisure, imagine your earning power as insufficient to 
feed any mouth but your own, imagine each mouth in 
the family needing a separate pair of hands to feed it 



aiid each new mouth needing its own hands while they 
are yet the soft hands of a baby — imagine these things 
and you may faintly appreciate the difficulties which the 
common Mexican encounters in trying to improve his 
condition. For all practical purposes they are insur- 

And how about the capacity of Mexicans for democ- 
racy? The assertion that democracy is not compatible 
with "the Spanish-American character" seems to be 
based wholly upon the fact that a considerable percent- 
age of the Spanish-American countries — though not all 
of them — are still ruled by dictators, and that changes 
in the government come only through revolutions by 
which one dictator is succeeded by another. This state 
of affairs was brought about by the peculiar history of 
these countries rather than by "the Spanish-American 
character." Ruled as slave colonies by foreigners, these 
countries asserted enough valor and patriotism to over- 
throw the foreigner and expel him. Their struggle for 
freedom was long and bitter ; moreover, being small coun- 
tries, their national existence was in danger for con- 
siderable periods after their independence. Therefore, 
of necessity the military calling became a dominent pro- 
fession and militarism and dictatorships followed nat- 
urally. Today what Spanish-American countries as are 
still ruled by dictators are ruled by dictators largely be- 
cause of the support accorded the latter by foreign gov- 
ernments, which oppose democratic movements some- 
times even with arms. Diaz is not the only Spanish- 
American dictator who is supported by the United States 
at the behest of Wall street. During the past five years 
several of the most notorious of the Central American 
dictators have been held in their places only by a mili- 
tary demonstration on the part of this country. 


But is Mexico ready for democracy? Does she not 
need to be ruled by a despot for awhile longer, until such 
a time as she shall have developed capacity for democ- 
racy ? I repeat this absurd question only because it is so 
common. The only reasonable reply is ^hat of Macau- 
lay, that capacity for democracy can on\y increase with 
experience with the problems of democracy. Mexico is 
as ready for democracy as a country can be which has 
no democracy whatsoever. There is 10 chance of Mex- 
ico having complete democracy at \his time. These 
things come only gradually, and therf." Is no danger what- 
soever of her suddenly getting more democracy than is 
good for her. Who will say that Mexico should not 
at once have just a little democracy, enough, say, to de- 
liver her people from the mire of slavery and peonage? 

Assuredly Mexico is behind us in the march of prog- 
ress, behind us in the conquests of democracy. But, in 
considering her, be just and consider what the luck of 
history gave us in comparison to what it gave the Mex- 
ican. We were lucky enough not to have the rule of 
Spain imposed upon us for 300 years. We were lucky 
enough to escape the clutch of the Catholic church at 
our throats in our infancy. Finally, we were lucky 
enough not to be caught in our weakness at the end of 
a foreign war, caught by one of our own generals, who, 
in the guise of president of our republic, quietly and 
cunningly, with the cunning of a genius and the re- 
morselessness of an assassin, built up a repressive ma- 
chine such as no modern nation has ever been called 
upon to break. We were lucky enough to escape the 
reign of Porfirio Diaz. 

Thus, whichever way we turn, we come finally back 
to the fact that the immediate cause of all the ills, the 
shortcomings, the vices of Mexico is the system of Diaz, 


Mexico IS a wonderful country. The capacity of its 
people is beyond question. Once its republican consti- 
tution is restored, it will be capable of solving all its 
problems. Perhaps it will be said that in opposing the 
system of Diaz I am opposing the interests of the United 
States. If the interests of Wall Street are the interests 
of the United States, then I plead guilty. And if it is 
to the interests of the United Stat^ s that a nation should 
be crucified as Mexico is being crucified, then I am 
opposed to the interests of the United States. 

But I do not believe that this is so. For the sake of 
the ultimate interests of this country, for the sake of 
humanity, for the sake of the millions of Mexicans who 
are actually starving at this moment, I believe that the 
Diaz system should be abolished and abolished quickly. 

Hundreds of letters have come to me from all over the 
world begging to know what can be done to put a stop 
to the slavery of Mexico. Armed intervention of foreign 
powers has been suggested again and again. This is un- 
necessary as well as impractical. But there is one thing 
that is practical and necessary, especially for Americans, 
and that is to insist that there shall be no foreign inter- 
vention for the purpose of maintaining the slavery. 

In Mexico today exists a nation-wide movement to 
abolish the Diaz system of slavery and autocracy. This 
movement is quite capable of solving the problems of 
Mexico without foreign interference. So far it has not 
succeeded, partly because of the assistance our govern- 
ment has given in the persecution of some of its leaders, 
and partly because of Diazes threat — constantly held be- 
fore the Mexican people — of calling an American army 
to his aid in case of a serious revolution against him. 

Under the present barbarous government there is no 
hope for reform in Mexico except through armed revo- 


lution. Armed revolution on the part of the decent 
and most progressive element is l strong probability 
of the early future. When the revolution starts 
American troops will be rushed to the border and 
made ready to cross in case Diaz is unable to 
cope with the revolt alone. If the American army crosses 
it will not be ostensibly to protect Diaz, but to 
protect American property and American lives. And to 
this end false reports of outrages upon Americans, or 
danger to American women and children, will be delib- 
erately circulated in order to arouse the nation to justify 
the crime of invasion. That will be the time for decent 
Americans to make their voices heard. They will expose, 
in no uncertain terms, the conspiracy against democracy 
and demand that, for all time, our government cease put- 
ting the machinery of state at the disposal of the despot 
to help him crush the movement for the abolition of 
slavery in Mexico. 


Since John Kenneth Turner wrote "Barbarous 
Mexico" Diaz has fallen, Madero has fallen, and as 
we go to press with this edition of the book, the 
''Constitutionalists" under Carranza and Villa in 
northern Mexico are fighting with considerable suc- 
cess against Huerta, who still holds Mexico City. 
Until this month President Wilson has resisted the 
demand of American capitalists that the United 
States intervene, but the latest dispatches indicate that 
United States soldiers will soon invade Mexico. 

The possibility of war with Mexico on behalf of 
American capitalists makes it more important than 
ever that American wage-workers understand the 
facts which Turner has presented in "Barbarous 

The trouble in Mexico is not mainly due to the 
acts of Huerta or any other individual. It is due to 
the fact that the working people of Mexico are held 
in virtual slavery by the land system against which 
they are rebelling. In Mexico there is little ma- 
chinery as yet, and land ownership is the chief means 
of exploitation. So the slogan of the Mexican rebels 
is "Land and Liberty." 

From the confused bits of information which trickle 
through the battle lines, it seems that here and there, 
in the territory occupied by the rebel armies, the 
peons are beginning to work for themselves without 
paying tribute to landlords. Will American workers 
allow the American army to be used to force these 
rebels back into slavery? 
April, 1914. 

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